Saturday | 23 May 2015

SS12: Ogier turns the screw

Sébastien Ogier won the first two of Saturday afternoon’s stages at Vodafone Rally de Portugal to maintain his charge up the leaderboard.

Stage info: SS11/12

SS11: Baião 2, 18.57km
Saturday’s opener has two different characteristics. It’s narrow throughout, but the first half is fast between high banks, while the second part is more twisty and slower. The surface is sandy, except for a small section of asphalt.

SS12: Marão 2, 26.30km
A contender for the most picturesque stage of the season. The opening half climbs on a fast, sandy surface to the rally’s high point at 1222 metres, with hills on one side of the road and fields and a big drop on the other. The second part is no less stunning with a fast, wide descent, twisting between big boulders in a slower section at 14km.

The Frenchman, sixth this morning, climbed to third in his Volkswagen Polo R and increased the pressure on leader Jari-Matti Latvala and second-placed Kris Meeke. He narrowed the gap to Meeke to 3.7sec and trails team-mate Latvala by 14.4sec.

“Not bad at all,” said Ogier at the end of Marão. “There was a rock in the middle of the road, on the line. I couldn’t avoid it but luckily this time I didn’t get a puncture.”

Latvala was second in both stages but the Finn was relaxed at conceding almost five seconds.

“I had four hard tyres on the car and was worried we would lose more time to Ogier, who has two soft compounds on his. I’m happy we didn’t lose more and our tyres should be good for today’s final stage,” he explained.

Meeke, too, was unflustered after posting fourth and third fastest in the two tests. “Yep, Seb is on a big push now but I’m just driving my own rally. Wherever that gets me at the end. I’ll be happy,” said the Citroën pilot.

Andreas Mikkelsen ceded third to Ogier, the Norwegian admitting he lost time as he drove around rocks in the road as the sandy surface cut up.

Hayden Paddon continued his good form by relegating both Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo and Mads Østberg in Marão to climb to sixth. However, the Kiwi was having difficulty in encouraging his i20 to turn into corners.

Having resolved morning differential problems in his DS 3, Østberg dropped time with no boost from his engine, a broken sensor to blame.

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