Ott Tänak withstood sustained pressure from behind to increase his lead at Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Sunday morning.
Stage info: SS16-18
SS16: Montim 1, 8.76km
The shortest ‘proper’ stage is popular with drivers. Most of it is on sandy-based medium to wide roads and is generally flowing. The biggest challenges are the handful of twisty, boulder-lined sections and a couple of corners hidden over crests.
SS17: Fafe 1, 11.18km
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 at Confurco to view the cars heading downhill into a square left corner, before a small section of asphalt leads into a hairpin back onto gravel. Then just before the finish is the stomach-churning Pedra Sentada jump that forms one of the WRC’s iconic locations.
SS18: Luilhas, 11.89km
Luilhas begins on narrow roads with small banks on either side. It’s generally fast with some long straights. After a twisty section from 2.3km, the stage opens out and there are fast corners between huge boulders. At 9.5km it drops downhill before a sequence of hairpins to the finish.
The Estonian emerged from the opening three speed tests of the final leg with an 8.1sec advantage over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Kris Meeke. Thierry Neuville was hot on their heels and 10.0sec further adrift.
Meeke was fastest out of the blocks to win the opening Montim test from Tänak and Neuville and reduce his overnight deficit to the Estonian to just 2.4sec.
Tänak retaliated with fastest time ahead of Meeke in Fafe and Luilhas to extend his advantage with just the repeated Montim and Fafe stages remaining.
Esapekka Lappi retired from fifth after a catalogue of dramas. The Finn dropped 30sec in Montim when he clipped a bank and tipped his Citroën C3 onto its roof.
Despite lacking part of the rear wing, his pace in Fafe was good until he hit a bank and broke the rear left suspension, driveshaft and brake disc. Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm tried to make repairs after the finish but their efforts proved in vain.
His demise promoted Teemu Suninen into fifth behind FIA World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier, while M-Sport Ford team-mate Elfyn Evans completed the top six.
Saturday in Portugal: Tänak’s lead shredded
Latvala retires from second
WRC 2 in Portugal: Kalle builds Pro lead
Loubet recovers to head WRC2.