Rally Portugal Headlines
- Neuville Wins With Balance of Risk and Reward
- Ogier off on Friday surprises all
- The Hyundai Show That Wasn’t
- Toyotas Not Strong
- Two offs for Meeke end his Citroen Contract
- Paddon Hospitalised
Thierry Neuville – The Winner
Neuville ended Friday in P1 mostly thanks to some dreadful driving and luck around him. Not to take anything away from Thierry, his pace through the afternoon loop of stages was blistering, winning 4 of 5 stages. He couldn’t do so well in the morning being second on the road and playing deputy sweeper.
Saturday was a tale of balancing risk with the lead he held over Elfyn Evans. Whenever Elfyn got near, Thierry would respond with a better time on the next stage. By evening time the gap was large enough for Thierry to have an easy Sunday until the Power Stage. Esapekka Lappi was the only person to beat a fabulous Power Stage time on Fafe, denying him the perfect 30 points from a near perfect weekend.
Elfyn Evans – Second
I could be kind to Elfyn and say he thoroughly deserved second place with some risk free driving, managing the car through the conditions. On the other hand I could be cruel by saying he found himself in that position because so many other drivers crashed out. By midday service on Friday Elfyn was in 8th position. Such was the casualty rate in the afternoon he rose to 2nd by nighttime. Saturday morning gave Elfyn the chance to push and he did set two stage best times. As Dani Sordo was not threatening his second place, the decision to accept second was made by Saturday service. From here on it was all about finishing the rally.
Teemu Suninen – Third
It could be argued Teemu used a little bit of sports psychology to get his first ever WRC podium. His pace had been consistent all weekend but on Sunday he suddenly upped his game. Sitting in fourth he was within reach of Dani Sordo who had been coasting too all weekend. I believe Suninen’s entire season had been under the instruction of ‘finish every rally’. Perhaps he made Dani think his position was safe. On Sunday Suninen outpaced Sordo on 3 of the 5 stages and took his position by the second. On the third he even bagged a stage win to cement the second position.
Victims of a Brutal Rally Portugal
- Ott Tanak, sustained damage on SS2. Did not reenter
- Jari-Matti Latvala, broken suspension SS3. Rally2.
- Sebastien Ogier, off road SS5. Rally2.
- Andreas Mikekelsen, mechanical issues SS7. Rally2
- Hayden Paddon, accident SS7. Did not reenter.
- Kris Meeke, accident SS12. Did not reenter.
If you would like to read more WRC Rally Pace reviews check out:
- Rallye Monte Carlo 2018
- Rally Sweden 2018
- Rally Mexico 2018
- Tour de Corse 2018
- Rally Argentina 2018
- Rally Portugal 2018
I will be following this review up with more 2018 rallies in preparation for the 2019 season. You can subscribe below or follow me on Twitter for notifications of new posts @PushingPace. If you enjoy the wider rally discussion I’m @WRCStan. Please let me know any comments, opinions or mistakes too.
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