Rally de Portugal Day One
18 May 2018

Rally de Portugal – Day One Report

Hyundai Motorsport leads Rally de Portugal at the end of the first complete day of action, with most WRC competitors enduring issues throughout Friday’s stages

Thierry Neuville holds a 17.7-second advantage over Elfyn Evans with Dani Sordo in third overall after a dramatic day on the Portuguese gravel stages

Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon both retired after mid-stage incidents. It remains to be seen if they can re-join under Rally 2 on Saturday.

Matosinhos, Portugal

May 18, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport holds the provisional lead of Rally de Portugal, round six of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after an incident-filled and dramatic day on the gruelling gravel stages.

Friday’s itinerary covered eight special stages including a repeated loop of Viana do Castelo (SS2/5), Caminha (SS3/6) and Ponte de Lima (SS4/7). Two runs through the Porto Street Stage concluded the running. It was a day of highs and lows for most crews with notable retirements up and down the order, coupled with a particularly tricky tyre choice on the second pass.

Wins and losses

Thierry Neuville scored four stage wins during the afternoon to build an advantage of 17.7-seconds over M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans. Dani Sordo led the rally during the morning loop, taking a stage win himself (SS4), but fell to third overall by the end of the day just 6.6-seconds behind Evans.

Despite showing competitive pace and promise, it was a less than fortunate end to the day for Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon. Mikkelsen suffered a power steering issue in SS6 (Caminha 2) before being forced to stop in the subsequent SS7 (Ponte de Lima 2) with a loss of engine oil pressure.

Paddon, in his first WRC event since Sweden, held an early lead after scoring a stage win in SS2 (Viana do Castelo), and took charge again after SS6. However, a crash in the opening kilometres of SS7 saw the Kiwi driver and his co-driver Seb Marshall forced to retire for the day.

Both members of the crew were able to exit the vehicle on their own accord, but Paddon was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after experiencing lower back pain. A decision will be taken overnight to determine if he can continue his participation in the rally. The team will make further announcements about Paddon’s condition via its Twitter account (@hmsgofficial).

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Four stage wins helped the Belgian crew take control on a day of high attrition
Confident performance on Porto Street Stage helped increase lead to 17.7-seconds

Neuville said: “All in all, I am pretty happy with my day. We have made improvements to the car from one stage to the next, and we have been able to stay out of trouble. The afternoon loop proved decisive with a complicated tyre selection. We opted for six soft tyres, which – in hindsight – was perhaps not the best choice, but we were clever and made it work quite well in the end. Despite incredibly rough conditions, we felt comfortable and pushed as hard as possible. We took four stage wins in a row, and the performances in the Street Stage allowed us to build a decent lead. However, it’s still very early days in this rally, and we’ve seen today that we absolutely cannot be complacent.”

WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#16 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Stage win in SS4 saw Spaniards head up a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2
Soft tyre choice hampered afternoon progress but crew retained provisional podium

Sordo said: “It has been a very tough day, so I am pleased to be inside the top-three overall and still in the close podium hunt. There is still a long way to go, but it has already been a rally with many incidents. We started the morning loop carefully but built up confidence in the first run through Ponte de Lima to win the stage. For the afternoon, we opted to run soft tyres, which in the end was not the ideal choice. The stages were rougher than expected and we had high wear which prevented us from pushing. We managed the situation reasonably well and had two good runs during the Porto Street Stage to end the day positively. I hope for a smoother Saturday!”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Continuous improvements during the morning helped Norwegians move up the order
Loss of engine oil pressure forced the crew to retire in SS7

Mikkelsen said: “A day of two halves for us, unfortunately. The morning went reasonably and I felt like we were getting more comfortable with each stage. The car felt good and I was encouraged for the afternoon loop. In SS6, the second run through Caminha, we lost the power steering midway through and had to battle hard to make it to the end of the stage. We tried to fix the problem with the remote support of the team. Although we couldn’t manage to find a solution, we were still able to start SS7. Towards the end of the stage, the engine started to feel strange and I noticed oil on the windscreen, so we had no choice but to stop the car. The team will now assess the car to see if we are able to rejoin under Rally 2 on Saturday. I am very disappointed as we were going well and the car was perfect.”

WRC Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Immediately on the pace in SS2 with stage win to take early lead
Regained first place during afternoon loop but crashed in SS7 while avoiding a rock

Paddon said: “The day was going well, we were driving within ourselves and to our plan. It was a difficult day for everyone and hard to get the tyre choice right but it was, of course, good to be back on the pace right away. Near the start of SS7 there was a big rock on the inside of the corner, which was concealed. I had to steer out a little for the corner to avoid it, but then the speed was too great and the car ran wide. The problem then was a big culvert on the exit of the corner, which stopped the car instantly. I’m gutted for the team as a good result was possible but for a third year in a row, this stage bites us.”

Provisional podium and performance potential
Six stage wins and three 1-2s showed potential of Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Two Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews involved in close podium battle

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “It has been a long time since we have seen a day of the World Rally Championship as unpredictable, tough and incident-filled as that. Firstly, we hope to hear the confirmation that Hayden is completely fine after his accident. He had shown impressive pace today but got caught out by a hidden rock in SS7 that ended the rally for him and Seb immediately. They were able to get out of the car on their own but Hayden had some back pain which needed a precautionary check-up at the hospital. We have to wait and understand his condition before we can make any decision about Saturday. For Andreas, two related technical issues forced him to retire from the rally. A power steering issue in SS6 was followed by a loss of engine oil pressure in SS7. We have to evaluate the extent of the damage to understand if he can continue on Saturday. In more positive news, Thierry has had a strong day and leads the rally with Dani in third. If today is a benchmark for the rest of the weekend, these positions mean nothing because we have many demanding stages still to tackle here in Portugal.”

Saturday at a glance
Six stages set to run on Saturday over a competitive distance of 154.64km
Vieira do Minho, Cabeceiras de Basto and Amarante will each be run twice with a lunchtime service splitting the two loops
Amarante is the longest individual stage of the rally at 37.60km


Classification after Day One

1-T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:37:30.7
2-E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +17.7
3-D. Sordo C. del Barrio Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +24.3
4-T. Suninen M. Markkula Ford Fiesta WRC +34.4
5-E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +45.8
6-M. Østberg T. Eriksen Citroën C3 WRC +48.3
7-K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +1:18.7
8-C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +2:27.3



















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Photos: @World / Portugal

18 May 2018

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