Sunday | 24 May 2015

SS14: First blood to Ogier

Sébastien Ogier won Sunday’s opening stage at Vodafone Rally de Portugal to claw back more vital seconds in his attempt to dethrone leader Jari-Matti Latvala.

Stage info: SS14

Fafe 1, 11.15km
Fafe is one of the WRC’s iconic locations. It is all about the final 2km where tens of thousands of fans flock to two famous sections. They stand high on the hillside to view the cars heading downhill into a square left corner, before a small section of asphalt leads into a hairpin back onto gravel. Just before the finish is a stomach-churning jump. In the first few kilometres fans have painted the names of their favourite drivers on rocks that line the stage.

The Frenchman won the first pass through the iconic Fafe stage by 1.7sec from his Volkswagen Polo R team-mate to reduce the gap to just 7.8sec with two tests and 43.50km of action remaining before this afternoon’s finish.

“It was a clean stage. I kept to my plan and didn’t take extra risks. It’s the same driving I’ve done since the beginning of the rally. Let’s see on the next one…” said the championship leader.

Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia wore each other’s helmets. “That was a mistake. It seemed to work OK though!” laughed Ogier.

Latvala was unflustered. “He did this stage last year at the rallysprint. I’ve done it only once before in 2012 so I knew I would lose this one. No panic,” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen was third and regained third overall in his Polo R by outpacing Kris Meeke by 1.5sec. The Norwegian headed the Citroën pilot by 0.4sec overall.

“I wasn’t good enough so we’ll keep trying. We tried to do everything here but I couldn’t make the time,” explained Meeke.

Khalid Al Qassimi escaped a two-wheel moment early in the stage after cutting a corner.

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