Rally Portugal Pace Report

Rally Portugal has shown again how dramatic a WRC rally can be and all drivers seem to have a story to tell. For much of the rally Toyota cars were positions 1-2-3, however it was not to finish that way. Ott Tanak once again finished to win on merit although there were scares with brakes and suspension issues.

Thierry Neuville was a worthy runner up though there was plenty of uproar amongst spectators over instructions to Hyundai teammates to check in late at time controls so as not to be sweeping for Sebastien Ogier. Ogier himself, whose Citroen team employed the tactic in Rally Sweden earlier this year finished 3rd.

The M-Sporters Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans followed up in 4th and 5th. Suninen had a great Friday but was plagued with mechanical issues. Evans was running well until an electrical connection came loose midway through stage 5. He was unable to move until he had diagnosed and corrected the fault.

Gone but not out

Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a double dose of bad luck after a fantastic performance that kept him right up with leader Tanak. His suspension failed on SS12 forcing a retirement. Tanak suffered similar issues the next stage, Latvala could have taken the lead. The earlier running next day meant he was the only driver to receive a red flag on the Fafe Power Stage when Greensmith crashed. Gone were the chance of bonus points.

Dani Sordo had a great road position and pace and was leading the rally until he and Sebastien Loeb suffered the same catastrophe. Fuel pump issues slowed them both to a snail’s pace on Arganil on Friday. Although they could make the same stage times they had lost far too much time and were both their solely to help the team and teammate Neuville. Heavy penalties were acquired in the process.


Kris Meeke retired for the first time this season and from what would have been his first podium position too. He was having a great Rally Portugal until a terminal knock on a tree stump.

Gus Greensmith‘s debut rally in a WRC car was impressive. He had an impressive run despite a few stalls whilst getting to know the car. An off on the last stage of Saturday Amarante was followed by a crash at the famous jump of the Fafe Power Stage.

Esapekka Lappi was showing greatly improved pace compared to recent events. A puncture on Arganil took him out the race at the top but a roll on Montim did not cause classification worres. On the first run of Fafe however he knocked a wheel on a bank and had to retire from suspension damage.

For the full Rally Portugal classifications see WRC.com.

Rally Portugal High, Low and Overall positions chart.
How the crews finished in Rally Portugal with their highest and lowest positions held.

Ott Tanak – Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 1st
  • Time: 3:20:22.8
  • Expected Classification (xC): 1st
  • Average Pace: +0.17s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.30%
  • Stage Wins: 5/18
  • Points: 28
  • Power Stage: 3rd
  • Best Pace: Friday morning was all go from the start where others took time to warm into the rally. To end day one with over a 17 second lead from 2nd on the road is very impressive. Saturday afternoon’s runs whilst fighting damper and brake issues also show strength. Finally he could have taken the Power Stage win but decided not to to avoid being first on the road in Rally d’Italia Sardegna.
  • Notable Time Loss: Brake problems on SS8 Vieira do Minho 1. Damper issues late on were accompanied with a spin on Amarante 2.

Thierry Neuville – Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 2nd
  • Time: 3:20:38.7 (+15.9)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 2nd
  • Average Pace: +0.22s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.09%
  • Stage Wins: 5/18
  • Points: 22
  • Power Stage: 2nd
  • Best Pace: Very fastest over Saturday and took as many stage wins as Tanak.
  • Notable Time Loss: Could not match Tanak on Friday and quoted the handling of the car on Sunday morning.

Sebastien Ogier – Citroen C3

  • Overall Classification: 3rd
  • Time: 3:21:19.9 (+57.1)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 3rd
  • Average Pace: +0.36s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.54%
  • Stage Wins: 1/18
  • Points: 20
  • Power Stage: 1st
  • Best Pace: Staying in the top class from first on the road Friday. Power stage win.
  • Notable Time Loss: Time lost on Sunday morning was all about preventing tyre wear in preparation for Fafe. No positions were lost.
A chart analysing where time was lost during Rally Portugal.
The progression of Rally Portugal showing time lost to fastest stages (vertical) over the duration of the rally (left tor right)

Teemu Suninen – M-Sport Ford Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 4th
  • Time: 3:23:04.3 (+2:41.5)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 8th
  • Average Pace: +0.70s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 97.16%
  • Stage Wins: 1/18
  • Points: 14
  • Power Stage: 4th
  • Best Pace: Strong Friday placed him third before brake failure.
  • Notable Time Loss: The brake failure and small niggles by power issues.

Elfyn Evans – M-Sport Ford Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 5th
  • Time: 3:27:31.1 (+7:08.3)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 10th
  • Average Pace: +1.57s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 93.63%
  • Stage Wins: 0/18
  • Points: 10
  • Power Stage: 7th
  • Best Pace: Running amongst the top field until the electrical fault.
  • Notable Time Loss: Diagnosing the fault took Evans out the running, combined with Hyundai’s tactics meant Evans opened the road on Saturday.

Jari-Matti Latvala – Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 7th
  • Time: 3:31:51.0 (+11:28.2)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 6th
  • Average Pace: +0.53s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 90.20%
  • Stage Wins: 2/18
  • Retirements: 1 Mechanical (1 stage missed)
  • Points: 6
  • Power Stage: Red flagged run, allocated a time equal to 6th
  • Best Pace: Saturday morning loop was fantastic.
  • Notable Time Loss: The damper issue started in stage 12 but little lost elsewhere.
Analytical view of the pace (s/KM) for each driver over each stage of Rally Portugal. The distance to the top multiplied by the distance of the stage (horizontal) is equal to time lost on that stage.

Dani Sordo – Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 23rd
  • Time: 3:47:47.6 (+27:24.8)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 7th
  • Average Pace: +4.23s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 77.54%
  • Stage Wins: 2/18
  • Penalties: 4 – 6:40 late arrivals mostly under team orders
  • Points: 1
  • Power Stage: 5th
  • Best Pace: Stage wins on Friday, showing what could have been.
  • Notable Time Loss: The fuel pressure issue on SS3 may have been caused by human error. He also suffered a puncture on SS5 Gois 2. Penalties were big too.

Kris Meeke – Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 4th
  • Average Pace: +0.26s/km *completed stages
  • Rally Time Rating: 0.00%
  • Stage Wins: 2/18
  • Retirements: 1 – Crash on Power Stage
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: –
  • Best Pace: Fastest driver over Saturday narrowing the deficit to leader Tanak.
  • Notable Time Loss: A few stages of soft tyres on Friday caused warning lights and he also ran SS2 Gois with no audible pacenotes. Despite this they only dropped 5.5s on the stage. A spin on the penultimate stage dropped him a position. Could this have encouraged the risk that forced the retirement on the Power Stage?
Rally Portugal loop and day analysis.
A view of time lost to fastest stages for each day and loop of Rally Portugal.

Gus Greensmith – M-Sport Ford Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 11th
  • Average Pace: +1.089s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 0.00%
  • Stage Wins: 0/18
  • Retirements: 2 – Off Road SS13, Mechanical on Power Stage
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: –
  • Best Pace: An average +1s/km to fastest stage winners is remarkable for a debut drive. Experience of the kilometers must be more important than the result so therefore Gus must surely be happy with his rally.
  • Notable Time Loss: Sunday stages were slower as expected from first on the road. A few stalls at stage starts lost 5-10 seconds per time.

Sebastien Loeb – Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 9th
  • Average Pace: +3.93s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 0.00%
  • Stage Wins: 0/18
  • Retirements: 1 Mechanical, damaged suspension
  • Penalties: 3 totalling 6:20 for late arrivals under team orders
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: 27th (Damaged suspension)
  • Best Pace: Erratic distribution of good times to none.
  • Notable Time Loss: Same fuel system issue as teammate Sordo took the fight out the rally. A mistake on the Power Stage caused terminal damage.

Esapekka Lappi – Citroen C3

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 5th
  • Average Pace: +0.79s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 0.00%
  • Stage Wins: 0/18
  • Retirements: 1 – Mechanical Damage on SS17
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: –
  • Best Pace: Vastly improved performance all over. Both runs of the 37.6km Amarante were a good use of opportunity.
  • Notable Time Loss: A puncture on SS3 Arganil dropped him a little time to the field. A roll on Montim and the rally ending knock on Fafe should not have happened as he was not in a battle with anybody.

If you would like to read more like this check out the previous post of Rally Chile Analysis or the following round analysis of Rally Italia Sardegna. I also wrote a specific piece on How Ott Tanak won Rally Chile. You can also read what I predicted for Rally Portugal and how it compares with the above outcome.

If you would like to comment or let me know any errors please contact me via Twitter or the contact page. I’d really appreciate feedback via a like or share, or if you would rate this article with one click via the buttons below.

Also, if you have an objective or analytical mind and would like space to share it or would like to work together, please get in touch! On we go to Rally Italy Sardinia.

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