WRC 2 in Portugal:
Kalle builds Pro lead

Kalle Rovanperä fought back to demote Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký and lead WRC 2 Pro after Saturday’s penultimate leg of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

The Finn lost the lead with a puncture yesterday, but won five of today’s six gruelling dirt road speed tests to regain the initiative. He led his Czech colleague by 61.5sec in what is proving a superb debut for Skoda’s new Fabia R5 Evo car.

Rovanperä overturned a 4.8sec overnight deficit in the opening speed test and never looked back as he gradually extended his advantage.

The day’s biggest drama was reserved for Kopecký who drove much of this afternoon’s opening stage with little visibility after his car’s bonnet broke free from its fastenings after a heavy landing from a jump.

Mads Østberg was third, almost 20min adrift, in a Citroën C3 after Lukasz Pieniazek retired his Ford Fiesta when he lost the brakes and crashed into a tree.

Loubet recovers to head WRC 2

Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet leads the WRC 2 field heading into the final day.

Pierre-Louis Loubet held a commanding lead of almost two minutes in WRC 2 after a dramatic day for the frontrunners.

Overnight leader Ole Christian Veiby retired when his Volkswagen Polo caught fire, handing the advantage to Takamoto Katsuta, who vaulted from fourth to first in a single stage.

The Japanese youngster later crashed his Fiesta, allowing Loubet, driving a Fabia, to regain a lead he briefly held yesterday morning.

He finished 1min 57.7sec clear of Emil Bergkvist’s Fiesta, with veteran Henning Solberg up to third, a further 18.7sec adrift. The Scandinavian pair moved ahead of Eerik Pietarainen, who dropped from second to fourth in the final stage with damaged suspension.

Punctures delayed Nikolay Gryazin who ended in fifth with series leader Benito Guerra completing the top six.

Other retirements included Jari Huttunen, who crashed his Hyundai i20, and Diogo Salvi.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Vodafone Rally de Portugal, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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