Sunday | 22 May 2016

SS17: Mikkelsen grabs second from Ogier

Andreas Mikkelsen snatched second from Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier after winning Sunday morning’s opening two speed tests at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Stage info: SS16 / 17

SS16: Vieira do Minho 1, 22.47km
The only gravel stage that has changed from 2015, Vieira do Minha includes a new 1400 metres section at the finish. The stage has a little of everything – sandy sections contrast with a clay surface and wide roads are followed by narrower stretches. The test winds its way between big boulders in the opening few kilometres, but just before the new finish section is a fast road with challenging corners which the drivers will relish.

SS17: Fafe 1, 11.19km
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 Norwegian eclipsed Ogier by 8.8sec in Vieira do Minho to overturn the 3.5sec deficit and then pulled further clear after topping the times in the legendary Fafe special stage. He was 2.4sec faster to build an 8.1sec advantage with two stages remaining.

Mikkelsen believed he could have been even quicker through Vieira do Minho which was damp after overnight rain. “I tried to drive like yesterday but I didn’t take advantage of the grip in places which was really good. I was too careful, I’ll try to be more aggressive.”

A heavy landing in his Polo R over the famous jump near the finish of Fafe indicated he achieved that. “It was a clean stage but a nose-heavy landing over the last jump wasn’t so nice. The jumps here seem a bit different this year,” he added.

Ogier completed the opening stage with a front right puncture in his Polo R and that compromised his pace through Fafe as the Frenchman carried just one spare in the car.

“I can’t afford another puncture because I have no more spare. I can’t go completely flat out anymore so I tried to do a clean drive here,” he said.

Leader Kris Meeke was third in both tests behind the duelling Volkswagens, leaving his lead at 35.5sec over Mikkelsen.

“I drove cautiously in the first one. I have time in my pocket so I’ll use it. It would have been easy to get caught out, but the grip in Fafe was more consistent. I have 35sec in hand so I just have to bring it home now,” he explained.

Valeriy Gorban retired after a heavy landing in Fafe broke the front right suspension on his Mini John Cooper.

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