Monday, May 27, 2024

Rallying-Rovanpera leads Ogier by a single second in Portugal

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(Reuters) – Toyota’s reigning world champion Kalle Rovanpera led team mate Sebastien Ogier by a second after the opening leg of Rally Portugal on Friday.

The top four in the fifth round of the season were separated by just 5.4 seconds, with five different stage winners from the day’s eight tests.

“It has been a great battle the whole day,” said the Finn, who like French eight-times world champion Ogier is competing only in selected rounds this season.

“I could not do much more (at the end) because my tyres were in such bad condition at the rear and it was just about surviving.”

Ogier might have led overnight but for being slowed by a loss of hybrid power on stage eight.

Japan’s early leader Takamoto Katsuta was third, completing a Toyota one-two-three, with Hyundai’s Ott Tanak in fourth place.

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans lost almost a minute when a tyre came off a rim on stage seven, when his co-driver Scott Martin had to use a mobile phone to access the pace notes after losing the hard copy, and was eighth.

Hyundai’s championship leader Thierry Neuville, who was first to set off on the fast gravel roads, was in sixth place and 18.1 seconds off the pace.

Saturday’s second leg around the cities of Matosinhos and Porto sees 145km of timed action with nine stages and two loops of four stages each before the day’s closing Lousada stage.

Championship organisers also announced an extension to the event’s contract, securing its place on the calendar until at least 2026.

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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