Andreas Mikkelsen led Vodafone Rally de Portugal after winning Thursday evening’s opening super special stage in front of a massive crowd at Lousada circuit.
Stage info: SS1
A fan-favourite super special stage that dates back to the last occasion on which the rally was in northern Portugal. Two cars at-a-time run alongside each other on the mixed surface Lousada rallycross circuit. Two laps provide great entertainment for the 35,000 fans.
Volkswagen Motorsport secured a 1-2-3 with the Polo R in a carbon copy of this morning’s shakedown stage as the Norwegian outpaced team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Tens of thousands of fans packed the circuit to see Mikkelsen defeat Elfyn Evans as two cars at-a-time tackled the mixed surface gravel and asphalt test.
“It was great fun, a fantastic way to kick-off the rally,” he said. “The crowds were huge and we had a clean run. It was dusty and hard to see the corners in places. It will be a tricky weekend with a lot of new stages, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Mikkelsen was 0.5sec faster than Ogier, who beat Mads Østberg’s DS 3. Latvala was a further 0.3sec behind after beating Dani Sordo in a Hyundai i20.
Robert Kubica, returning to the WRC after missing the previous round in Argentina, was fourth with Thierry Neuville and Kris Meeke completing the top six.
The rally restarts from Matosinhos, near Porto, tomorrow morning for the first of three days of action. Drivers face two identical loops of three gravel stages covering 128.62km close to the Spanish border.
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