Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier will start Rally de Portugal on a high following victory in the Fafe Rally Sprint today (Saturday).
Driving a Polo R WRC, the reigning world champ won the third round final by half a second from Ford Fiesta RS pilot Ott Tanak. It was an impressive debut for the Frenchman, who missed the event in 2013 because of illness.
Last year’s Fafe winner Dani Sordo was third, 2.2sec adrift in a Hyundai i20.
Run for the last three years, the Rally Sprint takes place on a six-kilometre section of the iconic Fafe-Lameirinha stage near Porto in the north of Portugal. It attracts an estimated 100,000 spectators who flock to see the cars the weekend before the rally proper gets underway in the southern Algarve region.
“That was a amazing experience,” said Ogier, who interrupted his first run to perform donuts mid-stage. “The Portuguese WRC fans are about the most passionate in the world, so as a little thank you we drove with the Portuguese flag on the car and that seemed to go down well.”
“The event itself was an incredible experience. On some parts of the stage you couldn’t see the landscape – only people! The stage is very demanding and the famous jump really is huge. Events like this are definitely a benefit for the rally sport and for sure next year we will not miss it!”
With the Rally de Portugal taster complete, attention now switches to the main event that starts from Estoril on Thursday 3 April.
Fafe Rally Sprint Top Five
|1||S. Ogier||Volkswagen Polo R||3m39.9s|
|2||Ott Tanak||Ford Fiesta RS||+ 0.5 sec|
|3||Dani Sordo||Hyundai i20 WRC||+ 2.2 sec|
|4||Mads Ostberg||Citroen DS3 WRC||+ 5.0 sec|
|5||Jari Ketomaa||Ford Fiesta R5||+ 9.4 sec|