Thu 09 May 2024

Neuville claims early advantage in Portugal

Thousands of fans turned out in the central Portuguese coastal city Figueira da Foz on Thursday night to witness Thierry Neuville go fastest on the opening stage of Vodafone Rally de Portugal 2024.

The FIA World Rally Championship points leader was the last of the Rally1 cars to take to the 2.94km Tarmac street stage and went 0.6sec quicker than five-time Rally de Portugal winner Sébastien Ogier.

Neuville needed every advantage he could get behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 N Rally Hybrid on Thursday’s opener, with a tough Friday of gravel road clearing awaiting the Belgian. His Estonian team-mate Ott Tänak crossed the line third-quickest, 1.4sec down on Ogier.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing pairing of Takamoto Katsuta and Kalle Rovanperä rounded out the top five whilst Adrien Fourmaux was the fastest of the M-Sport Ford Puma drivers, coming home in sixth.

Despite going quickest on Thursday morning’s shakedown, Dani Sordo could only muster the seventh-quickest time on his 2024 Hyundai debut, narrowly seeing off Toyota Gazoo Racing’s fourth driver Elfyn Evans.

Leading home the WRC2 field in ninth overall was Yohan Rossel, continuing a stellar season to date for Citröen, whilst Pierre-Louis Loubet announced his return to action in style, going second-quickest in his first WRC2 outting in Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. It marked the Frenchman's first outting at global level since Central European Rally, when he competed in an M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1.

Action resumes Friday morning 08:05 with stages awaiting competitors.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM