Thursday | 10 Apr 2014

Rally de Portugal driver report: Part 2

We continue our bumper review of the WRC drivers from Rally de Portugal with the second of three round-ups.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R)

Portugal really doesn’t like Latvala. Friday’s roll was his fourth crash there in six years. He was less than half a second from the lead at the time, but his mistake has allowed Sébastien Ogier to open a handy points lead – and we know how easy that will be to close….. Volkswagen needed fork-lift trucks to straighten Latvala’s car, but fastest times and Power Stage points showed the team did a fantastic job.

Mads Østberg (Citroen DS3)
It’s hard to remember much of significance happening to Østberg. But that’s a sign of how well the Norwegian has settled into the Citroen DS3. It was only his second gravel rally in the car, but he has chased podiums in both and is best of the rest in the championship after the VW duo. Yves Matton must be increasingly content with that side of his service park.

Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)
The most encouraging part of Evans’ weekend was the way in which Friday’s big crash affected him. It didn’t. He didn’t let his head go down, kept his confidence and showed great pace through the final two days. Talking of heads down, the M-Sport boys deserve great credit for working until 04.00 on Saturday to rebuild the car so he could go back out and continue to learn.

Juho Hänninen (Hyundai i20) 
Hänninen was probably quite underwhelmed by his first taste of the i20 on gravel in competition. A string of punctures interrupted his momentum, along with a broken driveshaft on Saturday and a hefty impact with a tree on Sunday. The result of all this? Dani Sordo takes his place at Rally Argentina.

Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS) 
Portugal was one of those rallies where Martin Prokop often comes to the fore. The routine is that drivers chuck their cars into the scenery right, left and centre and the Czech keeps it altogether to land a good result. That was basically his Portugal story and sixth place, which he snatched from a wounded Thierry Neuville in the final stage, moves him ahead of Kris Meeke in the points.