Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah secured his maiden WRC 2 win at Rally de Portugal after a pulsating battle with Jari Ketomaa.
They fought tooth and nail all rally and began the final day with Al-Attiyah’s Ford Fiesta RRC apparently 11.2sec ahead of Ketomaa’s R5 version.
However, before the final stage the Finn was credited with 10sec after being delayed early in the event and they began the test separated by 0.8sec.
The decision came too late to advise Ketomaa and Al-Attiyah posted fastest time through the 13.83km test to win by 11.6sec.
Ketomaa, in his efforts to chase down Al Attiyah, went off in the penultimate stage and was lucky to survive an impact with a tree with minor damage to his rear left suspension. But it was enough to slow him in the final test and cost a shot at victory.
Reigning JWRC champion Pontus Tidemand finished third on his maiden outing in WRC 2. The Swede’s Fiesta R5 pulled clear of Karl Kruuda’s S2000 version to head the Estonian by 13.9sec.
Bernardo Sousa shrugged off concerns about a damaged exhaust manifold in the penultimate stage to finish fifth with Robert Barrable completing the top six.
Julien Maurin lost sixth after the penultimate stage when his car’s alternator stopped charging while both Fredrik Ahlin and Marty McCormack went off the road in that test.
Yuriy Protasov retains the championship lead despite failing to score following a troubled event in his Fiesta R5.
Max Rendina maintained a 100 per cent winning record in the Production Cup category within WRC 2. The Italian has won all three rounds he has started in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.