Sebastien Ogier has clocked up yet another World Rally Championship victory in the Volkswagen Polo R as he stormed to Rally De Portugal glory.
Winning by 43.2 seconds over a seemingly rejuvenated Mikko Hirvonen – who stormed to his best result in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS who himself beat out a hard charging Mads Ostberg in the Citroen DS3.
Reigning champion Ogier never looked truly troubled at the head of the field, even with Hyundai driver Dani Sordo taking the manufacturers first stage victories in the i20.
“Portugal is a place I love to drive and now I have four wins from five starts in a World Rally Car here,” said Ogier. “I had a good battle with Mikko for a big part of the rally, and I had good tyre management on every stage yesterday afternoon and that made the difference. To save my tyres, I didn’t push like crazy.”
Pushing like crazy is eventually what stunted Hirvonen’s push on day two having completely wrecked his Michelin soft tyres going too hard on the drying Algarve stages.
Even though this could seem like a copy and paste job from any number of other WRC reports, Robert Kubica failed to finish the rally after crashing twice. The Pole crashed on the opening day in Portugal before returning under Rally 2 rules where he promptly binned it again. This time though, he ran off the road and came so close to getting it back on the road – unfortunately he wasn’t lucky enough to keep going.
Another Ford driver who had an unfortunate off was young Welshman Elfyn Evans, going too hot into a tricky corner – which also claimed Kris Meeke – he went cannoning off the road and quite a way down a substantial hill. Thankfully the 2012 WRC Academy champion continued the rally.
“After the mishap on Friday, the rally has been quite good to us. I need to say a huge thanks to the mechanics who worked through the night to provide us with a perfect car from Saturday onwards. After the state we left it in, I really wasn’t expecting it to be perfect! They did a brilliant job and I hope that we’ve done them proud over the past two days,” commented Evans.
“We had a chance to learn a lot about the car and the driving so it’s been a great learning experience and another good step forward. Obviously we have another new rally next, so we might see a slightly different approach there, but I’m pleased with the way things are going so far.”