On Friday’s 7th and last stage at the 2011 Rallye de Portugal, Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, moved into first place with the fastest time on Stage Seven, as Ogier, in a Citroen, dropped back to ensure he wouldn’t run first on the road on Saturday. Latvala will now be clearing the road of the loose surface gravel today. Frequently this does cost the first car on the road some time. Another Ford driver, Hirvonen, who started the event with a seven-point lead in the overall WRC drivers’ standings, will be starting second on the road.
Latvala’s Ford Leads 2011 Rallye de Portugal at the end of Friday
Seven-time world champion Sebsastien Loeb also slowed on the final stage to gain a more advantageous starting position on Saturday. He will start third overall, 13.7s behind Latvala. Ogier had led Latvala by 1.8s starting the final stage today but decided to reduce his pace to slip down the starting order on day two.
Petter Solberg started the Rallye de Portugal as one of the favourites for victory in his Citroen DS3 WRC but dropped out of contention after suffering the first of four punctures on Stage Two. When he used up his supply of spare tires following a fourth flat on Stage Seven, he decided to retire from the day. Although he will pick up a 10-minute SupeRally time penalty as a result, he concluded the time loss caused by the sequence of punctures would have been greater had he limped to the finish of the stage to record a time. With no spare tires to complete the 58.22-kilometre road section back to service in Faro, Solberg was left with no option other than to retire.
Armindo Araujo marked the competition debut of MINI’s John Cooper Works Super 2000 by completing day one in seventh place. Araujo believes that the car can go even faster after admitting he had been concentrating on learning the machine rather than pushing for fast stage times. The other MINI that I had mentioned in a previous post, the Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira is 17th in his MINI John Cooper Works, which has been hampered by a handful of mechanical problems.
The top 20 cars after Friday’s competition are presented in the following table:
|10.||K. AL QASSIMI||M||1:28:06.6||+2.1||+4:35.2|
|14.||P. VAN MERKSTEIJN||M||1:30:45.4||+41.3||+7:14.0|