Portugal debrief: part 1

The heat was turned up at Vodafone Rally de Portugal as this year’s WRC reached its midpoint with a captivating battle in high summer temperatures. We reflect on round seven’s highlights.

Stage of the Rally
It’s one of the WRC’s iconic locations and Sunday’s Wolf Power Stage in Fafe lived up to its billing in terms of excitement.

Firstly there was Gus Greensmith’s big crash at the mythical Lameirinha jump. His Ford Fiesta’s suspension gave way just metres before the finish, pitching the Briton into a bank after an impressive drive on his World Rally Car debut.

Then Kris Meeke’s hopes of third place evaoprated when he smacked a tree stump and broke his Toyota Yaris’ front suspension. Finally, winner Ott Tänak played a tactical masterstroke right at the end to slow and avoid the poisoned chalice of opening the road at the next round in Italy.

Save of the Rally
When WRC 2 leader Ole Christian Veiby and co-driver Jonas Andersson smelled smoke in the cockpit of their Volkswagen Polo R5 early in Saturday morning’s Amarante stage, a quick glance in the mirrors told the pair all they needed to know – time to get out.

With flames belching out the rear, Andersson was alert enough to guide the young Norwegian to the side of the road next to a fire tender. The fire crew quickly doused the flames and prevented the Polo from burning out.

One to Forget
Friday morning’s return to the legendary Arganil speed test for the first time since 2001 was not met with much enthusiasm in Hyundai Motorsport’s corner of the Matosinhos service park.

Gus Greensmith's World Rally Car debut came to an unfortunate end

Its delight at leading with Dani Sordo quickly turned to despair as the Spaniard and Sébastien Loeb spluttered through the 14.44kms with fuel pressure problems in their i20s.

Many minutes ticked by as both stopped on several occasions and we could only look on as Sordo thumped his steering wheel in frustration. Both were out of contention on the opening morning, leaving Thierry Neuville to carry the flag for the Korean squad.

Quote of the Rally
Back to our friend Gus Greensmith. He smiled his way through his Ford Fiesta World Rally Car debut, despite ditching it in Saturday afternoon’s second pass through Amarante which meant he opened the sandy roads on Sunday.

“I decided that I’ve been last on the road, I’ve been middle of the road, and I needed to get the experience of being first on the road so here I am today! I’m driving a WRC car - how can that not be enjoyable?” We love your approach Gus!

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