SS8/9: Tänak overcomes brake drama

Ott Tänak preserved his Vodafone Rally de Portugal lead on Saturday morning despite a major scare when the brakes on his Toyota Yaris World Rally Car failed.

Stage info: SS8/9

SS8: Vieira do Minho 1, 20.53km
The first of two tests in the Cabreira Mountains, Vieira do Minho has been extended for 2019 with a new 4km section at the start, unfolding amid a breathtaking granite landscape. It is a stage of contrasts, as sandy sections conflict with a clay surface and wide roads are followed by narrower stretches. After the new opening it winds its way between big boulders while the finish section brings challenging corners which the drivers relish.

SS9: Cabeceiras de Basto 1, 22.22km
Generally considered to be the rally’s most picturesque stage, it is sandy based, mostly wide and fast. It climbs on narrow and technical roads before becoming more open at 8km, and then heading downhill until a hairpin at 11.1km where the road levels out. At 18.8km it’s back to a sandy, narrow road to the finish.

The Estonian pulled into the finish of the opening Vieira do Minho speed test with a concerned look on his face. Tänak was asked if he had an issue and no words were needed as he pushed the brake pedal which went straight to the floor.

He dropped 9.0sec to team-mate and stage winner Kris Meeke and departed the stop line to work on the car on the liaison section ahead of the following Cabeceiras de Basto test. His efforts paid off as he was second fastest, 0.4sec behind Yaris colleague Jari-Matti Latvala.

It left his advantage at 10.9sec over Latvala, who had his hands full with a charging Meeke. The Britain’s opening stage victory reduced the margin between them to 2.5sec, but Latvala’s fastest time widened his advantage to 5.3sec.

There was another big battle behind for fourth between title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier. Championship leader Ogier was quicker in both stages in his Citroën C3 to climb ahead of the Belgian’s Hyundai i20 by 0.2sec.

Conditions were again hot and dusty and after the opening test ran with three-minute intervals between the leading drivers, the margin was raised to four minutes for Cabeceiras de Basto after several drivers struggled for visibility.

Further down the leaderboard, Esapekka Lappi climbed to seventh in his C3, demoting World Rally Car debutant Gus Greensmith.

Elfyn Evans was also back on the leaderboard after the electrical problem in his Ford Fiesta yesterday. The Welshman moved up to ninth, ahead of new WRC 2 Pro leader Kalle Rovanperä, who demoted team-mate and overnight leader Jan Kopecký this morning.

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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