SS15: Tänak logs another fastest time, Is Ogier playing a tactical game?

Hyundai's Ott Tänak recorded his second consecutive fastest time at the Rally de Portugal on Saturday afternoon.
Ott Tänak
Ott Tänak. Photo by: Vincent Thuillier/Hyundai Motorsport GmbH
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Tänak was 2.1 seconds faster than M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux on the second run through the Montim stage. Overall, Tänak has reduced the gap to Toyota driver Sebastien Ogier at the lead to just 7.8 seconds.

Ogier lost 2.6 seconds to Tänak on the stage, but the French champion might be playing a tactical game, conserving tires. His car appeared quite loose on the Montim stage, so perhaps he is planning to tighten his shock absorbers for the next long special stage and attack properly.

“Amarante will be an important one, we have to push. In this stage, our car is not working super well, but I expect it to perform a lot better in this one,” Ogier remarked, referring to the 37-kilometer monster stage of Amarante.

“Maybe Seb has some problem. We didn’t do anything special. The grip is quite low. I don’t know what Seb’s plan is,” Tänak summarized after hearing Ogier’s interim times.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville continues in third place in the rally. The gap ahead is such that catching up through driving alone won’t be possible before the end of Saturday. Behind him is teammate Dani Sordo, only 5.8 seconds away, but the Spaniard cannot pass Neuville as the Belgian needs the third-place points for the championship considerations at the end of Saturday.

“The position we are in, we need to get through and carry on driving without making mistakes. There’s nothing to push for, so it makes it very challenging,” Neuville said.

“I enjoyed it a little bit more, the car is moving a little bit more. The places are quite clear. At the moment, it is an amazing result for the team, so this is the target for the end,” Sordo explained.

In fifth place in the rally is Ford driver Fourmaux, ahead of Toyota’s Elfyn Evans. Leading the Rally2 class is Nikolaiy Gryazin, who is seventh overall. Irishman Josh McErlean is just 0.8 seconds behind Gryazin. Jan Solans and Yohan Rossel are also still in the class victory fight.

Three more special stages will be run on Saturday in the Rally de Portugal. The competition concludes on Sunday.

Rally de Portugal standings after SS15/22:

1.Sebastien OgierToyota2:23:37.5
2.Ott TänakHyundai+7.8
3.Thierry NeuvilleHyundai+53.2
4.Dani SordoHyundai+59.0
5.Adrien FourmauxFord+1:22.8
6.Elfyn EvansToyota+2:47.4
7.Nikolay GryazinCitroen+7:40.2
8.Joshua McErleanSkoda+7:41.0
9. Jan SolansToyota+7:50.3
10. Yohan RosselCitroen+8:03.5
11. Lauri JoonaSkoda+8:40.8

Rally de Portugal itinerary (CET):

Thursday, 9th May

09:01 Shakedown: Baltar (4.61 km)
20:05 SS1: Figueira da Foz (2.94 km)

Friday, 10th May

09:05 SS2: Mortágua 1 (18.15 km)
10:35 SS3: Lousã 1 (12.28 km)
11:35 SS4: Góis 1 (14.30 km)
12:35 SS5: Arganil 1 (18.72 km)
15:05 SS6: Lousã 2 (12.28 km)
16:05 SS7: Góis 2 (14.30 km)
17:05 SS8: Arganil 2 (18.72 km)
18:35 SS9: Mortágua 2 (18.15 km)

Saturday, 11th May

09:05 SS10: Felgueiras 1 (8.81 km)
10:05 SS11: Montim 1 (8.69 km)
11:10 SS12: Amarante 1 (37.24 km)
12:35 SS13: Paredes 1 (16.09 km)
15:35 SS14: Felgueiras 2 (8.81 km)
16:35 SS15: Montim 2 (8.69 km)
17:40 SS16: Amarante 2 (37.24 km)
19:05 SS17: Paredes 2 (16.09 km)
20:05 SS18: Lousada (3.36 km)

Sunday, 12th May

08:05 SS19: Cabeceiras de Basto 1 (19.91 km)
09:35 SS20: Fafe 1 (11.18 km)
10:32 SS21: Cabeceiras de Basto 2 (19.91 km)
13:15 SS22: Fafe 2 (11.18 km)

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