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This is a discussion on WRC Portugal Mar29-Apr1 talk/results spoiler** within the Motorsports Talk forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; Round 4 - Vodafone Rally Portugal Mar 29 - Apr 1 Three night stages are among the main changes to ...

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    Cool WRC Portugal Mar29-Apr1 talk/results spoiler**

    Round 4 - Vodafone Rally Portugal Mar 29 - Apr 1



    Three night stages are among the main changes to the route of Vodafone Rally de Portugal, which maintains its hub in the Algarve region of the country.

    Following the superspecial stage around the Praca do Imperia in the capital Lisbon on the afternoon of Thursday 29 March, crews will now tackle three tests - all run at night and in quick succession - during the 300-kilometre journey back to the event’s base at Faro’s Algarve stadium, a venue for the Euro 2004 football tournament.

    The night stages have an average distance of 12 kilometres, which has resulted in the rally’s overall competitive route rising from 385.31 kilometres in 2011 to 434.77 kilometres for 2012.

    After a slightly delayed start owing to the late finish on Thursday, competitors will head to the Tavira municipality for the first time since 2007 for three repeated stages on Friday.

    click: wrc.com/rally-portugal/overview/

    Official Website: rallydeportugal.pt/

    Listen Live:worldrallyradio.com/



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    SWRC preview

    Craig Breen will be looking to capitalise on P-G Andersson's absence when the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship resumes in Portugal this week.

    Swede Andersson trails Irishman Breen by 18 points after two events but hasn’t nominated the Algarve-based contest as one of his seven scoring rounds due to his participation on the clashing opening event of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship season in New Zealand.

    Breen, who won his class on the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo but finished second to Andersson in Sweden, said: “Portugal is always a tough event. The introduction of the night stages will be interesting. I got the chance to test at home on a local gravel event at the beginning of the month which included stages in darkness and last weekend I was in Turkey for a gravel test with Castrol Ford Team Turkey so my preparation as gone well.”

    Hayden Paddon dominated the Production Car world championship section of Vodafone Rally de Portugal last season. He has labelled this year’s edition as a must-win event following what he considered to be a lacklustre showing on his SWRC debut in Sweden last month.

    “This year is not only about winning the championship; it’s also about showcasing our speed - which we did not do in Sweden,” said the New Zealander, whose Skoda Fabia will be armed with an uprated engine in Portugal. “Looking at the event itself, we need to win the SWRC category at minimum.”

    more: wrc.com/news/swrc-preview

    ---------------------

    WRC Academy preview

    Some of the best young rally drivers in the world will be in action when FIA WRC Academy season two gests underway on Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Thursday.

    Introduced in 2011 to showcase the sport’s brightest stars by equipping them with identical Ford Fiesta R2s, prepared by M-Sport, and run on control Pirelli tyres, the category is the first step for drivers intent on one day winning the World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Held over six rounds of the 2012 WRC season, drivers will also receive extensive training during the course of the year to ensure they are ready to climb to the sport’s highest echelon when the opportunity arises.

    This year’s intake features 10 drivers representing seven different nations. They are: Fredrik Ahlin (Sweden), Christopher Duplessis (United States), Elfyn Evans (Great Britain), Alastair Fisher (Great Britain), John MacCrone (Great Britain), Brendan Reeves (Australia), Joao Silva (Portugal), Jose Suarez (Spain), Pontus Tidemand (Sweden) and Timo van der Marel (Netherlands).

    Of the 10, only Ahlin, Duplessis, Fisher, Reeves, Suarez and van der Marel have previous WRC Academy experience. Of this six, all but Duplessis - who contested the final round in 2011 - were in action when the series began in Portugal 12 months ago.

    more: wrc.com/news/wrc-academy-preview



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    Loeb pleased with revised World Rally Championship tyre rules

    Sebastien Loeb has praised the change of tyre usage regulations for this season's World Rally Championship - stating that last season's rules were dangerous.

    On certain rounds of this year's WRC, the crews are permitted 10 tyres which can be used in exceptional conditions. This move was prompted by heavy rain during last year's Rally Australia, when the crews were forced to run on unsuitable hard-compound covers.

    Going into this week's Rally Portugal, the drivers will have their usual allocation of hard rubber, with 10 softer tyres available if the rain does arrive in the Algarve.

    Asked if he was pleased with the change of rules, the eight-time world champion said: "Yes, because the old rules jeopardised our safety. I remember having driven on muddy stages with hard tyres - it was terrifying! In addition to the 40 'hard' Michelin Latitude Cross tyres, we can use up to 10 soft tyres. If it doesn't rain, these extra tyres will be redundant. But if it does rain, they will enable us to avoid taking any unnecessary risks to stay on the road."

    more: autosport.com/news/98427
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    Qualifying Stage

    Jari-Matti Latvala has gone fastest through the Qualifying Stage for Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Driving a Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, the Finn set a time of 3m01.884s on the 4.96-kilometre Vale do Judeau stage. It means he will now be able to select his starting position for Thursday’s opening runs.

    “The car was feeling good but you have to remember we are still very early in the rally,” said Latvala. “For the road position we might start way behind and take the risk for dust at night.”

    Petter Solberg will be the second driver to select his starting position after going second fastest on the stage, 1.771s slower than his Ford team-mate Latvala.

    Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest for the factory Citroen team, one place ahead of fellow Citroen driver, the eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was the first driver to tackle the test.

    “For sure you like to set a good time but it can be easy to go off the road on a stage like this,” said Loeb.

    Ott Tanak was fifth quickest for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team with team-mate Evgeny Novikov just behind in sixth.

    Dani Sordo was the top MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver in seventh position.

    Nasser Al-Attiyah endured a troubled run through the stage when he missed a junction in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. Paulo Nobre was also out of luck when he rolled his WRC Team MINI Portugal nearing the end of the test.

    “It was a small roll but another accident again,” said Nobre, who reached the stage finish on foot.

    Drivers will select their starting positions at 13:00hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/qualifying-stage/

    -----------------------------

    Ford driver Petter Solberg has admitted he has reservations about the Rally of Portugal organisers' decision to water Thursday night's opening stages of the fourth round of the World Rally Championship.

    The drivers are concerned at the level of dust which will hang in the dark, cutting visibility on the three stages, which is why the organisers elected to run a water bowser through the test dumping thousands of gallons of water.

    Solberg said: "I'm not sure this is the right thing to do, there will be pluses and minuses to doing this.

    "If you are first on the road straight after it's been watered, there could be a lot of standing water and then how long is the water going to stay before the dust starts coming through?

    "It's very hard to know, it's a tough one. Maybe the best thing would have been to put bigger gaps between the cars."

    The leading crews in the World Rally Championship usually start with two-minute gaps, but in Portugal they will run with three - with the possibility of that being increased to four if needed.

    click: autosport.com/news/98435

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    thanks always good to see interest and thanks

    ----------------------------

    Drivers have selected their road positions for the opening day of Vodafone Rally de Portugal with the rival factory Citroen and Ford pilots opting for entirely different starting strategies.

    Ford ace Jari-Matti Latvala was the first driver permitted to select his start number after topping this morning’s Qualifying Stage. The Finn opted to run 17th on the road in an effort to benefit from a ‘clean’ road surface through Thursday’s three gravel stages.

    Citroen star Mikko Hirvonen, the third driver permitted to pick his starting position, selected first place on the road in order to avoid being caught out by hanging dust clouds, which can be a hazard on dry gravel events, especially at night when there is less breeze to disperse the dust.

    “We are counting more on the cleaning effect that it will be cleaner with more grip,” said Latvala. “The organisers have promised there is no dust on the [night] stages so we are also counting on that and the information in our team that we are confident the cleaning effect is bigger than the dust problem.”

    Hirvonen said: “Maybe there’s dust, maybe not. Even if there’s dust or rain it’s better to be first car on the road. The road cleaning might be a problem but there are only three short stages and if we lose something with that it shouldn’t be too much and we should be able to fight back from that. I’m optimistic for the rally but it’s going to be interesting where we are compared to the Fords. We spoke about it together as a team and as you can see Sebastien took the second place so that was our goal.”

    The top 17 starting positions for day one of round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia are as follows:

    1 Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen)

    2 Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)

    3 Ott Tanak (M-Sport)

    4 Dani Sordo (Prodrive)

    5 Jari Ketomaa (Autotek)

    6 Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior)

    7 Armindo Aruajo (MINI Portugal)

    8 Martin Prokop (Czech)

    9 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar WRT)

    10 Daniel Oliveira (Brazil WRT)

    11 Peter van Merksteijn Jr (Van Merksteijn)

    12 Dennis Kuipers (M-Sport)

    13 Patrik Sandell (Prodrive)

    14 Mads Ostberg (Adapta)

    15 Evgeny Novikov (M-Sport)

    16 Petter Solberg (Ford)

    17 Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford)

    click: wrc.com/news/16350

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    Portugal's first FIA WRC Academy recruit, Joao Silva, will have the honour of starting first on the opening stage of Vodafone Rally de Portugal, the 3.27-kilometre SSS Lisboa test, which is underway in the Portuguese capital.

    Crews will tackle the all-asphalt course, the first of 22 on the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, in reverse order with eight-time WRC title-winner Sebastien Loeb going 49th and last in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Following the stage, competitors will head to a regroup in Ourique when the exciting running order for Thursday’s three night stages will be formalised.

    Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen has elected to run first on the road tonight followed by Loeb, M-Sport Ford pilot Ott Tanak and Prodrive MINI ace Dani Sordo. Factory Ford drivers Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala have chosen to start in 16th and 17th positions respectively.

    “It’s an honour and I am very happy that the organisers gave the chance to me,” said Silva, who is from the Portuguese island of Madeira and will drive a Ford Fiesta R2. “The crowds here will be very big and as a Portuguese competing here on my home rally, the chance to drive first in front of these people will be a real pleasure. First on the road is a real pleasure.”

    Silva’s WRC Academy rival Christopher Duplessis will go second on the road through SSS Lisboa with fellow WRC Academy drivers John MacCrone and Jose Suarez third and fourth respectively.

    click: wrc.com/news/16379

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    SS1: Solberg quickest

    Petter Solberg leads Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, following his fastest time on the opening SSS Lisboa in the country’s capital city.

    Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg was 0.1s faster than Citroen pilot Sebastien Loeb on the 3.27-kilometre all-asphalt stage, despite nudging a tyre barrier. Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen shared the third fastest time. M-Sport’s Ott Tanak was fifth with Dani Sordo sixth for the new Prodrive WRC Team.

    Portuguese Armindo Araujo thrilled the throngs of local fans by securing a top 10 fastest stage time in his WRC Team MINI Portugal John Cooper Works WRC.

    “It was fantastic, maybe we tried too much but I am happy with my feeling and my confidence,” said Araujo. “I am confident for the rally. So many people are pushing, it’s like having two co-drivers.”

    Russia’s Evgeny Novikov reported a small engine misfire in his M-Sport Fiesta. Swede Patrik Sandell said he tried to avoid wearing out his tyres for the upcoming gravel stages in his Prodrive WRC Team MINI, while Daniel Oliveira completed his first stage of a world championship event in his new Fiesta RS WRC.

    Craig Breen, in a Fiesta S2000, was the quickest of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship runners while Brendan Reeves was the fastest of the FIA WRC Academy intake in his Fiesta R2.

    Crews are now heading 200 kilometres south to Ourique for a regroup. Stage two, the all-gravel 10.19-kilometre Gomes Aires run, gets underway at 20:19hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss1



    wrc academy times ss1:


    ----------------------------

    The battle for victory on Vodafone Rally de Portugal has taken another twist with rain falling at the event's permanent service park in Faro.

    Warm temperatures and bright sunshine have formed the backdrop to round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia so far, with the opening SSS Lisboa test typical of Portugal’s glorious spring weather. However, there have been reports of cloudy conditions and rain falling over parts of the rally route.

    Eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, currently 0.1s adrift of leader Petter Solberg, will run second on the road on tonight’s three all-gravel stages.

    The Citroen driver said: “We just don’t know what is going to happen with the weather. I want there to be breeze tonight [for the dust] because when the sun goes down the air becomes still and we don’t want that. I wasn’t pushing in that [first] stage, it was fine with no mistakes.”

    Opening stage winner Solberg, in a factory Ford, said: “I took it easy to save the tyres because the real work starts tonight.”

    Crews are currently heading 200 kilometres south to Ourique for a regroup. Stage two, the all-gravel 10.19-kilometre Gomes Aires run, gets underway at 20:19hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/16383

    ------------------------------
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    SS2: Fords fly

    Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala’s decision to select lowly starting positions for Thursday’s night stages and benefit from a cleaner road surface looks to be paying off after they went fastest on the Gomes Aires test.

    Solberg completed the run 1.5s quicker than factory Ford team-mate Latvala with Sebastien Loeb, running second on the road, 6.0s adrift of Solberg, who now leads Latvala by 2.2s in the overall classification.

    Loeb, who was 2.9s quicker than fellow Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen, said: “It was okay with no dust at all. The grip was changing because it was humid in some places. I just tried to follow the road but it can be difficult to see in the dark.”

    Hirvonen, who is opening the road on Thursday’s trio of night stages, said he wasn’t happy with his performance behind the wheel of his Citroen. “It was really bad driving, I didn’t have any rhythm,” said the Finn.

    Estonian Ott Tanak reported a lack of confidence in some fast sections but said he was happy with the handling of his M-Sport Fiesta.

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss2



    wrc academy ss2:


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    SS3: Loeb crashes out

    Sebastien Loeb’s lead of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia is under threat after the French ace went off the road approximately seven kilometres from the start of stage three of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    Loeb was running second on the road in his Citroen DS3 WRC and posted the third fastest time on stage two. Although both he and co-driver Daniel Elena were uninjured, their car is understood to have ended up some distance from the road. It has been reported they will not restart under Rally 2 regulations on Friday.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest through the stage in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2.7s quicker than Ford team-mate Petter Solberg. It means the Finn now heads the Norwegian by 0.5s in the overall standings.

    Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest in his Citroen, 3.5s down on Latvala. Ott Tanak said he lost time when he forgot to switch on his full lighting display on his M-Sport Fiesta. He was fourth quickest with Thierry Neuville a strong fifth and Evgeny Novikov sixth.

    Adapta Fiesta driver Mads Ostberg suffered a front-right puncture early in the stage and was almost 25s down on Latvala with the seventh best time. Dani Sordo did not start the run in his Prodrive MINI.

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss3


    ----------------------------

    Citroen team principal Yves Matton has confirmed that Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have retired from Vodafone Rally de Portugal following their crash on the third stage of round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Loeb was third overall after two stages only to hit trouble on the very next run, rolling and inflicting substantial damage to his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    “They went off on a situation when the road turned on the top [on a crest], the road turned to the right and Sebastien turned to the left,” said Matton. “The pace note was good, but he didn’t follow the indication, just before the top the road was going a little bit to the left and we think he was looking more to the road and he didn’t follow the note. Sebastien said the impact was not heavy. We don’t know how many times the car rolled, but enough to make sure it won’t start tomorrow.”

    Matton continued: “The cage was damaged on the top. Sometimes this can happen if the first roll is heavy, but we don’t know. Anyway, the cage is bent. This can happen, it’s the rally. We still have one car and we try to take maximum points with Mikko [Hirvonen] and try to be leading at the end of the rally.”

    click: wrc.com/news/loeb-exit



    wrc academy ss3:



    ----------------------------

    SS4: Tanak avoids the rain

    Ott Tanak has claimed his first stage victory on a gravel round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia with a sensational performance through Friday’s final Ourique stage.

    The young Estonian was 1.4s quicker than Mikko Hirvonen, who was running one position ahead of him on the road in first place. Tanak is now 10.7s behind Hirvonen in the battle for the final podium spot.

    “I didn’t push everything but I think it was okay,” said Tanak, who is driving an M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC. “It was tricky because I have not done these stages in a World Rally Car before.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala continues to lead Vodafone Rally de Portugal but he could only manage the fourth quickest time, 7.3s adrift of Tanak’s effort due to the onset of heavy rain during his run.

    “The end of the stage was quite good but we were losing some time in the beginning when it was really slippery,” said Latvala.

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss4



    wrc academy ss4:


    ----------------------------

    Thursday wrap

    Round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia has got off to a dramatic start with eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb crashing out and five seconds covering the top three after four stages of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    Loeb, who opted to start second on the road for the three night stages in his Citroen DS3 WRC in an effort to avoid being caught out by hanging dust clouds, had set the third fastest time on stage two but failed to make it though the halfway point of the 14.29-kilometre Santa Clara run when he went off the road.

    Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena were uninjured in the crash but their car is too badly damaged for them to continue under Rally 2 regulations on Friday.

    “They went off on a situation when the road turned on the top [on a crest], the road turned to the right and Sebastien turned to the left,” said Citroen Racing team principal Yves Matton. “The pace note was good, but he didn’t follow the indication, just before the top the road was going a little bit to the left and we think he was looking more to the road and he didn’t follow the note. Sebastien said the impact was not heavy. We don’t know how many times the car rolled, but enough to make sure it won’t start tomorrow.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala leads overnight for Ford, his gamble to select a lowly starting position to benefit from a ‘cleaner’ road surface paying off when he went second fastest on stage two and quickest of all on the third stage to snatch the lead of the rally from team-mate Petter Solberg. But his progress was thwarted slightly when it rained heavily while he was tackling Thursday’s closing stage.

    “It has not been an easy evening but our [road] position has paid off,” said Latvala, whose overall lead ahead of Solberg is 2.6s. “If it rains tomorrow then starting lower down is not the best for sure but luckily we will have the soft tyre [option] if we have bad conditions and Mikko [Hirvonen] will be closer to us in the starting positions.”

    Petter Solberg was fastest through the all-asphalt street stage in Lisbon and quickest again on the first gravel test, Gomes Aires. The rain also caught him out on stage four with the Norwegian reporting a half spin in his Fiesta.

    read more: wrc.com/news/thursday-wrap

    ------------------------------

    SWRC wrap

    Hayden Paddon has completed the opening day of Vodafone Rally de Portugal leading the Super 2000 World Rally Championship category in his Skoda Fabia.

    Paddon, the reigning Production Car world champion, trailed Craig Breen following the opening superspecial in Lisbon but moved in front on the first all-gravel night stage.

    The New Zealander’s advantage over the Irishman, in a Fiesta S2000, after four stages is 24.6s. Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi is third in his Fiesta Regional Rally Car with Portugal’s Pedro Meireles (Mitsubishi Lancer) fourth and Maciej Oleksowicz, from Poland, fifth in another Fiesta.

    “We took a risk by going with the soft compound tyre,” said Paddon. “On the last two stages it was too soft in the second part of the stages and we were losing a lot of time. But I’m happy to be leading, I like the night.”

    SWRC points leader Breen, who is competing in the series after winning the inaugural FIA WRC Academy in 2011, said: “We had big trouble on stage two in a water crossing when the car dropped onto three cylinders. It was a big fright and I thought my rally was over. I didn’t push flat out on the last two because it was tricky in the dark because you can’t see your landmarks. I’m happy to have got here.”

    click: swrc/news/thursswrc-wrap

    -----------------------------

    WRC Academy wrap

    A thrilling battle for FIA WRC Academy glory is in prospect on Vodafone Rally de Portugal with the top three drivers covered by less than two seconds following the completion of Thursday's three night stages.

    Fredrik Ahlin, from Sweden, holds top spot in his Ford Fiesta R2 with Australian Brendan Reeves a slender 0.5s adrift in his identical machine. Northern Ireland’s Alastair Fisher is third, 1.9s down on Ahlin with Swede Pontus Tidemand fourth, 15.7s adrift of top spot, and the top category newcomer.

    To underline the close competition in the class for young drivers, the top four runners have all claimed a stage victory apiece with Reeves going fastest on SSS Lisboa, Ahlin taking the honours on Gomes Aires, Tidemand setting the pace on Santa Clara and Fisher topping the times on Ourique, which was held in heavy rain.

    Briton Elfyn Evans is fifth overnight with Dutch driver Timo van der Marel in sixth position. Spaniard Jose Suarez and American Christopher Duplessis are seventh and eighth respectively. However, neither Joao Silva nor John MacCrone failed to complete the opening day’s action.

    click: wrc-academy/news/thurs-wrc-academy-wrap



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    Friday

    SS5: Latvala in trouble


    Petter Solberg has shot into the lead of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after Ford team-mate and erstwhile pacesetter Jari-Matti Latvala went off the road barely a handful of kilometres from the stage finish.

    Heavy rain, mud and patches of fog made for treacherous driving conditions and several drivers hit trouble, most notably Latvala who ended up stuck in a ditch in his Fiesta RS WRC.

    Solberg, who was more than one minute slower than stage winner Dani Sordo but now leads Mikko Hirvonen by 25.1s in the overall classification, said: “I went off in a right-hand corner and lost 10 seconds. It was so muddy, so slippery, just unbelievable. After that I backed off because it was too risky from championship point of view.”

    Citroen driver Hirvonen said: “It’s not a problem when it’s slippery but it’s where the grip is inconsistent that’s the problem. There were so many cars all over the place. I was just a bit too cautious.”

    Sordo, meanwhile, said running first on the road in his Prodrive-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC had handed him a clear advantage.

    “It was really, really difficult, really slippery and will get worse for the cars coming behind so to be first on the road was better,” said the Spaniard. “There was some fog in the stage in the really fast part at the top. The car was okay but the conditions call for soft tyres and we don’t have a lot for the rally.”

    Armindo Araujo suffered a spin approximately five kilometres into the stage in his WRC Team MINI Portugal John Cooper Works WRC.

    With the faulty ignition coil problem that slowed him on Thursday solved, Martin Prokop’s biggest concern came when he went off the road on two occasions. “It was really crazy - the stage was incredible,” he said. “I had two big moments at the beginning and we were quite a lot out of the road so we are lucky we are here.”

    Other drivers in trouble on the stage include Craig Breen, Thierry Neuville, Sebastien Ogier, Hayden Paddon and Ott Tanak, who was fourth overall prior to the stage start but is understood to have retired.

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss5



    wrc academy times:


    -------------------

    Latvala stranded in Portugal

    Jari-Matti Latvala is almost certain to go no further on day two of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after he went off the road on stage five.

    Latvala was leading the event, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, when he went off 1.4 kilometres from the finish of the Tavira stage in treacherous weather conditions.

    A Ford spokesperson said: “Jari-Matti hit a rock, which threw him off the road into a ditch where his car is stuck at an angle of 45 degrees. From the angle the car is at it’s not possible to assess if there’s damage to the suspension. The police are not letting spectators try to help get the car on the road for safety reasons so they are stuck.”

    click: wrc.com/news/16405

    -------------------

    SS6: Trouble for Solberg

    The drama continues on Vodafone Rally de Portugal with Petter Solberg suffering a similar fate to Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by going off the road and getting stuck in a ditch in the increasingly treacherous conditions.

    Solberg, who had inherited the lead when Latvala retired on the previous run, was 2.4s from the stage finish when he went off the road and got stuck in a ditch. With no spectators on hand to help haul his Fiesta RS WRC back onto the stage, Solberg is unlikely to go any further on round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen was fifth fastest through the stage and now leads the event by 31.4s over Adapta Fiesta driver Mads Ostberg. “I’m sure these are the most difficult conditions I’ve been driving,” said Hirvonen. “In some places I can’t see 10 metres but you’re supposed to be going flat out. I don’t like these conditions.”|

    Dani Sordo, running first on the road and benefitting from slightly less muddy road surface, was fastest for the second stage running in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. “They’re really tough conditions, with the fog,” said Sordo. “I have problems with the screen - it is too hot inside the car and the temperature outside is too different.I get to the middle of the stage and I only have a small part of the screen where I can see. I am happy with the car. It is difficult to know where the grip is but it’s okay. I have nothing to lose so I just drive and enjoy.”

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss6



    wrc academy times:



    -------------------

    SS7: Three in a row for Sordo

    Dani Sordo has made it a hat trick of stage wins on day two of Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Driving a latest-specification, Prodrive-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC, Sordo completed the fog, mud and rain-affected stage 21.8s faster than M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Evgeny Novikov as he continues to benefit from running first on the road.

    “It was really, really difficult conditions, more difficult than the other stages,” said Sordo. “It was impossible to see the road.”

    Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest in his factory Citroen DS3 WRC to increase his overall lead to 36.3s over Novikov, who has moved ahead of Mads Ostberg after the Norwegian was slowed by a left-rear puncture on his Adapta Fiesta.

    “It is so slippery, so muddy,” said Hirvonen. “The changes of grip are so sudden that anything is possible. I am leading but that doesn’t mean it is easy.”

    Czech Ford National Team driver Martin Prokop climbed from seventh to fifth in his Fiesta, despite reporting worsening stage and weather conditions. “It was the most incredible. I didn’t think it could be worse than the first two stages. So much heavy rain and fog, I could see nothing. There was no chance to go faster. I had some big moments in the muddy places. The car is perfect, the team did a good job with the set-up. The only problem is the conditions.”

    The surviving crews are now heading to Faro for a 30-minute service halt. Stage eight, the repeat of the 25.01-kilometre Tavira test, gets underway at 15:56hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss7


    ...whoah what a morning !!
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  13. #12

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    Friday midday wrap

    Mikko Hirvonen leads Vodafone Rally de Portugal after Friday's opening three stages as fog, mud and rain combined to make driving conditions treacherous and transform the leaderboard on round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Heavy overnight rain has turned the once dusty gravel roads into slippery mud-caked tracks, which caught out several star drivers, not least factory Ford aces Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg. Overnight Latvala went off into a ditch on Friday’s opener with Solberg following suit nearing the finish of the very next run. Both drivers have been forced to retire but are expected to restart on Saturday.

    “It is so slippery, so muddy,” said Citroen driver Latvala, whose lead over Evgeny Novikov stands at 36.3s after seven stages. “The changes of grip are so sudden that anything is possible. I am leading but that doesn’t mean it is easy.”

    M-Sport Fiesta pilot Novikov has been hampered by an intercom issue all morning but moved ahead of Mads Ostberg for second when the Norwegian’s Adapta Fiesta suffered a left-rear puncture on stage seven.

    Patrik Sandell is fourth in his Sweden World Rally Team-backed MINI, one place ahead of Martin Prokop, who described the stage conditions as the most treacherous he’d ever experienced as he repeated difficulties seeing where he was going due to fog and a misting windscreen.

    In a further boost for the Prodrive-run MINI team, Dani Sordo has capitalised on starting first on the road today by winning all three stages in his uprated John Cooper Works WRC. However, because Sordo is competing under Rally 2 regulations following his day one retirement, the Spaniard is not in contention for top honours.

    click: wrc.com/news/friday-midday

    ...
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  14. #13

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    Ford head disappointed by double retirement

    Ford Racing motorsport manager Gerard Quinn says that the realisation of losing both cars on stages five and six of Vodafone Rally de Portugal is still sinking in - but he hopes to see both Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg restart on day three.

    “Disappointed doesn’t come close to how we’re all feeling,” said Quinn. “It’s actually quite hard to believe what’s happened: it’s still sinking in. To go from the position we were in last night, first and second, to this...it’s unbelievable, particularly with them going out one after another.”

    Latvala and then Solberg were both in front when they retired on consecutive stages. Early reports suggest that both factory Fiestas are largely undamaged, and Quinn is anxious for both drivers to return to action tomorrow.

    “I very much hope that we will see them both out tomorrow and from what we know now, I see no reason why that shouldn’t be the case,” he said. “In these situations, the only thing you can do is just get straight back on immediately. There’s still a very long way to go.”

    The mistakes from the Ford drivers constitute a big stroke of luck for Citroen’s championship leader Sebastien Loeb, who crashed out on Thursday night. Ford’s hopes now rest with privateers Evgeny Novikov and Mads Ostberg, who are second and third respectively after seven stages of round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    click: wrc.com/news/16411

    -------------------

    Safety comes first in Portugal

    Vodafone Rally de Portugal organisers have explained the reasons behind their decision to cancel Friday's three closing stages.

    Heavy rain, fog and mud have been a constant concern throughout day two of the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia with several competitors retiring or suffering significant delay after being caught out by the treacherous conditions.

    At the mid-afternoon service halt in Faro today the decision was taken to cancel stage 10 due to an access road getting washed away earlier in the day when a small stream swelled and burst its banks.

    With heavy rain leaving stages eight and nine coated in mud and with more rain and fog a possibility, the decision was taken to cancel those two runs as well, resulting in the loss of all of Friday afternoon’s competitive action.

    The event will now resume with the 11th stage, Almodovar, at 09:49hrs local time on Saturday.

    click: wrc.com/news/safety-comes-first

    ...imho i'm sure there will be repercussions from todays events
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  15. #14

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    Saturday

    SS11: Sordo fastest




    Dani Sordo has made it stage win number four on Vodafone Rally de Portugal following another strong performance in his latest-specification MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    In increasingly dry conditions, Sordo, who is running third on the road, completed the run in a time of 16m30.8s, 8.1s faster than Jari-Matti Latvala, who has restarted under Rally 2 regulations following his retirement on Friday.

    “The stage was really nice, the balance on the car was really good,” said Sordo.

    Latvala said: “We came through without any problems. I had to choose a pace for safety. If it’s conditions like now it’s going to be very, very difficult.”

    Petter Solberg, who also restarted under Rally 2 rules, was third quickest, 0.5s behind his Ford team-mate Latvala. “There’s some understeer from the car. The main goal now is to finish in at least fourth, but it’s going to be very difficult. ”

    Adapta Fiesta pilot Mads Ostberg has snatched second place from Evgeny Novikov after going fourth fastest. He said: “We tried a bit of a push without risks. It’s getting quite dry but in some corners you have mud so there are a few surprises.”

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss11



    wrc academy times:



    --------------------

    SS12: Solberg sets the pace

    Petter Solberg’s bid to make up lost ground on Vodafone Rally de Portugal is on course after the Norwegian clocked the fastest time in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    “I’m pushing a bit,” he said. “The set-up for the first stage was not working but for this one it was perfect - it is what we were expecting. I’m happy with the time so we need to stay focused, not make any mistakes and get to the podium. I would like to get fourth place.”

    Dani Sordo completed the stage with a front-right puncture on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Nevertheless he managed to record the second fastest time, 4.4s down on Solberg. “It is really slippery all the time in the mud,” said the Spaniard. “But I’m not taking any real risks. I’m happy. The car is really good. I also feel really good.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest in his factory Fiesta, 9.1s down on Solberg. He said: “We have a job to do and that’s to score points. Dani Sordo is going quite quick but there is no point to make good stage times. We drive at 95 per cent.”

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss12



    wrc academy times:



    --------------------

    SS13: Solberg continues

    Petter Solberg is continuing to set the pace on day three of Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg was 9.1s quicker than the MINI John Cooper Works WRC of Dani Sordo.

    “It’s very difficult in the mud and the braking but it’s been a good morning, the set-up worked for the two last stages,” said Solberg.

    Sordo said: “I try to keep the tyres well but it was difficult because there were places where it was more abrasive in this stage. But I’m really happy with the speed.”

    In the battle for the overall lead, Mads Ostberg lost ground to first-placed Mikko Hirvonen when an engine problem developed in his Adapta Fiesta after approximately 10 kilometres.

    “We gained quite a lot in the beginning but we have an engine problem and the car dropped onto three cylinders,” said Ostberg. “I had to use a lot of revs to stop it from happening but we struggled too much.”

    click: wrc.com/news/portugal ss13



    wrc academy times:



    ...
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 03-31-2012 at 05:54 AM.
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  16. #15

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    Saturday midday wrap:

    Mikko Hirvonen continues to lead Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, with the treacherous weather conditions that blighted day two subsiding on Saturday morning's opening loop.

    While chunks of the rally route in the hills north of Faro remain coated in mud, drivers have reported some grip issues by running soft compound tyres on drying roads in the belief the stages would be wetter.

    “It was slippery, but it is for everyone that’s why we’re not losing too much time,” said Hirvonen, whose advantage out front at the wheel of his Citroen DS3 WRC stands at 47.3s. “It was good though but if I need to use hard tyres [this afternoon] it’ll be impossible to drive, but if that’s what I’ve got to do then I have to do it.”

    Mads Ostberg demoted Evgeny Novikov for second on Saturday’s first run but his efforts to catch Hirvonen for the lead suffered a blow on stage 13. “We gained quite a lot in the beginning of the stage but we have an engine problem and the car dropped onto three cylinders,” said the Adapta Fiesta pilot. “I had to use a lot of revs to stop it from happening but we struggled too much.”

    Novikov, meanwhile, reported a misfire on the middle stage, which remained a nuisance on the last run.

    Patrik Sandell completed Saturday’s opening three stages in fourth position in his MINI. The Sweden World Rally Team driver said: “I can push more but I don’t want to take stupid risks.”

    A power loss issue has slowed Martin Prokop’s Fiesta throughout the morning although he holds a strong fifth position in his Czech Ford National Team Fiesta. Nasser Al-Attiyah is sixth for the Qatar World Rally Team with Dennis Kuipers climbing up to seventh, one place ahead of fellow Dutchman Peter van Merksteijn Jr.

    Petter Solberg, who restarted this morning under Rally 2 rules following his exit on Friday, was fastest on stages 12 and 13 as he tries to battle back into contention in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Norwegian is now up to ninth overall.

    “I’m so disappointed with what happened yesterday but I will do whatever I need to do to get the win,” said Solberg. “I feel so sorry for the team for what happened yesterday but the morning has been good, I’m happy.”

    more: wrc.com/news/saturday-midday

    ----------------------

    WRC Academy joy for Fisher

    Alastair Fisher has won the opening round of the FIA WRC Academy, which concluded on stage 13 of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

    Fisher and co-driver Daniel Barritt began the final day of the event leading by 59.4s. By negotiating Saturday’s three stages unscathed, Fisher maintained his healthy advantage over second-placed Brendan Reeves to take victory.

    “That last one was quite a rough stage but we got through and we’re very pleased,” said Fisher, who has now made it two wins in the young-driver category for identical Ford Fiesta R2s following his maiden triumph in France last season.

    “We’ve worked very hard and it’s paid off,” the 23-year-old continued. “We won the rally in the wet conditions yesterday and it worked really well. It’s a very positive start but it’s going to be a very tough year.”

    Second-placed Australian Reeves said: “I worked so hard to get here and hopefully I’ve got second.”

    click: wrc.com/news/wrc-academy

    ...
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