Latvala Leads Friday in Portugal

Volkswagen MotorsportsJari-Matti Latvala was on top of the standings coming out of the first full day of the FIA World Rally Championship‘s 2015 Rally de Portugal, with a 11.1 second advantage over Kris Meeke.

The first stage of the day was Ponte de Lima, in which Dani Sordo was fastest, ahead of Ott Tänak and Andreas Mikkelsen. Forest fires at this stage forced its afternoon run to be cancelled.

Caminha was next, with Mads Østberg 0.3 seconds ahead of Latvala. A fast performance from Mikkelsen put him on top of the standings after SS3. Next up was Viana do Castelo, in which Latvala set the quickest time, in front of Hayden Paddon and Kris Meeke. By the end of the morning, Latvala led the standings, 6.1 seconds ahead of Meeke, with Mikkelsen in third, 9.2 seconds behind the leader.

The afternoon started with a return to Caminha, as Ponte de Lima was cancelled. 2.6 seconds ahead of Latvala was his teammate Sébastien Ogier.

SS7 took place at Viana do Castelo, and Latvala was fastest yet again, with Ogier and Tänak behind him.

This ended the day’s running, and Jari-Matti Latvala finished 11.1 seconds ahead of Kris Meeke. 16 seconds behind in 3rd was Andreas Mikkelsen, and Ott Tänak stood in fourth. In fifth was Dani Sordo, followed by Sébastien Ogier, Mads Østberg, Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville. Robert Kubica stands 10th, less that 90 seconds behind the leader.

“Overall it was a very good day for us at the Rally Portugal,” commented Latvala. “I was a bit slower on the opening stages, but found a better rhythm as the stages went on and went on the attack more and more. On the third stage of the day I seized the lead and kept on extending it. The conditions weren’t easy, it was very sandy and there were lots of stones on the track. No doubt the starting position helped us today. Naturally we want to see more of the same tomorrow and the next day.”

“We weren’t really expecting the roads to change so much between the two runs,” said Kris Meeke. “At the midday service, we had to take a gamble based on the data we had. In hindsight, if we did it all again, I think I would have gone for a slightly different set-up and tyres.