The first section is technical but the second part becomes faster, with several long straights. The roads are mid-to-wide with a hard, rocky surface and there are also a couple of watersplashes to cross.
How the action unfolded:
Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala extended their perfect stage winning record on day two of Rally de Portugal, taking another 1-2 for Volkswagen on the repeated Vascao test.
Ogier was quickest, to extend his rally lead to 22.3sec. And with just one more gravel stage to run today, the Frenchman indicated that he was finally on top of his illness. “Physically I‘ve given everything I have but it’s going better and better. I’m okay,” he said.
Latava, second overall in another Polo R, pulled 5.9sec further ahead of Mikko Hirvonen, who had fitted two new tyres to his Citroen in a bid to catch him.
“I saw Mikko had some brand new tyres but I want to keep mine for tomorrow,” said Latvala. “Actually the road was clean and surprisingly good to drive with my used tyres. I tried to concentrate on the surface and to be as smooth as possible on the braking.”
Hirvonen completed the stage before Latvala, and acknowledged at the finish that he was unlikely to take any time from his former team-mate. Heading to the day's final stage, Hirvonen trails Latvala by 39sec.
Evgeny Novikov remains fourth, almost three minutes behind Hirvonen, but the Russian looked worried when he brought his Fiesta RS to the finish control.
“We have a problem, I think something is wrong with the suspension and the steering is not straight,” he said. “It happened near the end. I hope it’s nothing too bad so I’ll try and fix it now.”
Further back in the top-10 there were serious problems for Martin Prokop and Michal Kosciuszko.
Prokop lost around one minute, and dropped from sixth to eighth, when his Fiesta RS lost drive to its rear wheels.
“It looks like the drive-shaft is broken,” the Czech driver explained. “It happened near the beginning of the stage. All we can do is try to keep the speed up on the fast sections because we lose a lot in tight corners.”
Kosciuszko went from ninth to 14th when the engine in his Mini JCW cut-out mid-stage, costing him more than 11 minutes. “The car just stopped – there was no electricity,” the Pole explained. “We lost so much time before we could get it started again. I’m so disappointed because Prokop lost time too and we could have had an opportunity.”
Prokop’s problems promoted Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen to sixth and Dennis Kuipers to seventh.
Ongoing hydraulic and gear-selection problems forced WRC-2 driver Robert Kubica to retire his Citroen from Saturday’s competition just 700 metres into the stage.