Friday | 22 May 2015

Al-Attiyah edges clear in Portugal WRC 2 fight

Nasser Al-Attiyah won three stages en route to leading the WRC 2 support category after Friday’s opening leg of Vodafone Rally de Portugal ahead of fellow Middle-East driver Yazeed Al Rajhi.

After winning last night’s curtain-raising super special stage in a Ford Fiesta RRC, Qatari Al-Attiyah added two more stage victories on rough gravel roads near the Spanish border in northern Portugal to lead Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi by 13.5sec.

Al-Attiyah duelled with Karl Kruuda until the Estonian was trapped in the dust of a fellow competitor and plunged to sixth after losing more than a minute. He will hope organisers credit him with the dropped time.

Pontus Tidemand drove Skoda’s Fabia R5 to third on its WRC debut. The Swede was 43.4sec off the lead, despite losing his brakes in SS4.

Stéphane Lefebvre was fourth in Citroën’s DS 3 R5 after overcoming an overheating engine, with Esapekka Lappi fifth in another Fabia R5 despite feeling the car was lacking power.

Yazeed Al Rajhi - second place

The day was filled with problems for many crews:

• Craig Breen retired his Peugeot 208 T16 with a damaged oil pump in SS2 and will not restart tomorrow, while Bernardo Sousa retired his similar car in SS6 with a broken radiator.

• Nicolas Fuchs is 16th after changing a puncture, losing his brakes in SS2 and encountering issues with his Ford Fiesta R5’s pop-off valve two stages later.

• Bent front suspension and a stalled engine left series leader Jari Ketomaa in eighth in a Fiesta R5, while Scott Pedder retired his similar car after rolling into a deserted building in SS4.

• Punctures delayed Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Valeriy Gorban and Armin Kremer.

 Martin Koci (engine), Eric Camilli, Quentin Giordano and Hendrik Lategan were among those who failed to complete the day.

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