Rally Portugal: Series leg 1 midday report

Midday update: Rising star Ogier on top in Portugal Sebastien Ogier has reached the midday service halt in Faro with a slender lead of 1.8 seconds over fellow Citroen driver Dani Sordo. The Frenchman started Friday's opening loop of stages of ...

Rally Portugal: Series leg 1 midday report

Midday update: Rising star Ogier on top in Portugal

Sebastien Ogier has reached the midday service halt in Faro with a slender lead of 1.8 seconds over fellow Citroen driver Dani Sordo.

The Frenchman started Friday's opening loop of stages of Vodafone Rally de Portugal fourth on the road and made the most of the cleaner stage surface to climb to the top of the leaderboard in his C4 WRC.

Sordo went fastest on the day's first Santa Clara stage but was pipped by Ogier on the second Ourique test although he managed to maintain his lead. However, the Spaniard had no answer to Ogier's pace on the Silves stage and slipped behind the flying Citroen Junior Team pilot on the gravel-based World Rally Championship qualifier.

"I am not at the maximum but I have found a good rhythm and am pushing quite hard," said Ogier. "It's nice to be leading but I know there is a long way to go."

Petter Solberg started the Silves stage in third overall in his privately-run C4 but he dropped time when he overshot a junction and had to reverse after going up an escape road. The Norwegian said after Thursday's shakedown that he planned to spend Friday monitoring the times of his rivals in order to secure the best possible road position for Saturday. His mistake dropped him to fourth behind Mikko Hirvonen.

Hirvonen, from Finland, went fastest on Thursday's opening superspecial stage in the Estadio Algarve and is 18.1s adrift of the lead in his works Ford Focus.

World championship leader Sebastien Loeb, running first on the road, currently holds fifth place. Last year's Rally de Portugal winner said stages three and four were particularly slippery due to the loose surface gravel he is carving through. Like his Citroen team-mates and unlike his Ford rivals, Loeb elected to carry one spare Pirelli tyre for the morning loop to benefit from a weight saving of approximately 22kgs.

Jari-Matti Latvala, the winner in New Zealand last time out, is sixth after a cautious start in the second works Focus. Henning Solberg is seventh despite reporting a steering problem on stage two. Britain's Matthew Wilson is 6.2s behind Solberg after losing time with a soft brake pedal on the Ourique stage, which he is hoping to rectify in service.

Mads Ostberg is ninth after suffering a half-spin on stage three, while ex-Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen completes the top 10 on his Rally de Portugal debut in his Citroen C4. Ken Block was 13th overall after an early spin when he rolled his Ford Focus 13.5kms from the start of stage four.

Nasser Al-Attiyah heads the Super 2000 World Rally Championship class from Jari Ketomaa and P-G Andersson. Al-Attiyah switched from the Skoda Fabia he used in New Zealand to a Ford Fiesta in the build-up to the rally.

Title leader Xevi Pons lost time with a right-rear puncture and is fifth in the category behind Janne Tuohino. Eyvind Brynildsen has retired from the day's action after his Skoda Fabia's engine dropped onto three cylinders.

Thierry Neuville tops the Junior World Rally Championship division from Aaron Burkart and newcomer Yeray Lemes. Hans Weijs Jr has lost time with brake problems.

Ott Tanak is the leading Pirelli Star Driver in 20th overall.

-source: wrc

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