A dramatic affair, the 2012 Rally de Portugal had it all: thunder and lightning, shock retirements, missed opportunities and a last minute twist.
Blighted by fog, mud and rain, the rally started with a shock on Thursday night when Sebastien Loeb made an uncharacteristic error and crashed out after misinterpreting a pace-note and turning left instead of right.
This left the door open for the Fords of Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg, who both took it in turns to lead the event on Friday morning but who both also crashed in treacherous conditions that led to the cancelation of three later stages.
Mikko Hirvonen inherited the lead from Solberg on Friday’s second stage and went on to a keep healthy advantage throughout, keeping out of trouble to take victory - his first driving for Citroen - by 1m51.8s over Ford pilot Mads Ostberg. Evgeny Novikov, also in a Fiesta, was third.
But Hirvonen’s victory proved shortlived after event stewards later excluded him from the results when his car was found to be fitted with non-conforming clutch and turbo components. Hirvonen’s exit handed Mads Ostberg his maiden WRC win and elevated Evgeny Novikov and Petter Solberg to second and third places respectively.
Rally de Portugal tyre facts:
Both WRC suppliers will offer the latest evolution of their WRC gravel tyre for Rally de Portugal. Michelin will supply its Latitude Cross to the majority of crews, while DMACK will be offering its DMG+2 tyre.
Both Michelin’s Latitude Cross and DMACK’s DMG+2 tyres are available in just one construction and tread pattern, but are offered in two compounds (hard or soft) to suit the varied conditions on the nine gravel rallies in the season.
In Portugal, each WRC crew will have 24 hard-compound tyres available, plus an alternative of 16 soft-compound tyres in case of wet or damp conditions. Each competitor is allowed to use a maximum of 24 tyres across both compounds for the entire event.