A repeat of this morning’s opening stage. It starts on a wide road and is flat-out for almost 6km, before dropping downhill on a gravel-covered section where braking is tricky. It was here that Jari-Matti Latvala had one of the biggest rally crashes of all time in 2009, when he rolled more than 200 metres down a hillside. The road drops into a valley and opens up towards the finish.
How the action unfolded:
Rally de Portugal leader Mads Ostberg rolled into retirement shortly after the midpoint of the stage to hand the lead back to championship leader Sebastien Ogier.
The Norwegian crashed at a left corner after 13km but both Ostberg and Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson were uninjured.
A spokeswoman for the Qatar M-Sport team told wrc.com the accident happened at a corner that Ostberg had marked as a ‘four minus’ in his pace notes. However, he approached the corner a gear higher and the car rolled.
Tweeting from the accident scene, Ostberg said: “Feeling quite low right now.”
Dani Sordo was fastest, the Spaniard’s Citroen DS3 just 0.6sec quicker than Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R and climbing to second overall following Ostberg’s demise.
“I didn’t take a lot of risks because the road is really, really rough and you could destroy the car on every corner,” said Sordo. “I took it carefully because the rally is long and I also wanted to be a bit careful with my tyres.”
Latvala’s time was all the more impressive because he drove the stage with no split times for his rivals coming into the car. “I just tried to push with the big gear on!” explained the Finn.
Ogier was third fastest, 2.0sec behind Sordo, and he leads by 4.4sec. The Frenchman admitted that opting for soft tyres on his Polo R this morning was not an ideal choice as temperatures continued to rise and the road became rougher.
“It wasn’t the best option, but I did my best in here to save them. They will make the loop, but maybe it wasn’t the optimum choice. Mads was so fast. Honestly, in some places it was not possible to follow him,” explained Ogier.
Mikko Hirvonen was fourth fastest, the Finn airing his frustrations at the finish. “I really need to fight the car to be able to push, so it’s not so easy, but we’re trying,” he said. “There were some big loose rocks in a corner and I hit one. It threw the car off the road a little. I didn’t lose any time, but it was a scare.”
The Fiesta RS duo of Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov were fifth and sixth, Neuville admitting he was still searching for the ideal set-up.
Michal Kosciuszko lost time with a spin and overheating tyres on his Mini JCW while Khalid Al Qassimi struggled with a clutch problem.
Robert Kubica's problems in the previous stage were traced to a water leak caused by a stick piercing the radiator of his Citroen DS3. The Pole was able to make repairs on the following liaison section and he lies fourth in the WRC 2 category.