SS5: Thierry Neuville’s impressive performance – Rovanperä’s witty remark at stage finish

The situation in the Rally de Portugal is extremely thrilling after Friday morning’s loop.
Thierry Neuville
Thierry Neuville. Photo by: Vincent Thuillier/Hyundai Motorsport GmbH
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It was anticipated that Thierry Neuville, leading the WRC standings, would significantly struggle with his first starting position on Friday morning’s stages. Surprisingly, the Belgian star is impressively in second place after five special stages.

Neuville concluded the morning with a superb fastest time. He beat Kalle Rovanperä, who came second, by 2.2 seconds on the classic Arganil stage.

Neuville executed his tyre strategy brilliantly throughout the morning.

“I stick to my plan all the way through, we were expecting more humid conditions and more grip. After the shakedown the feeling wasn’t great but it’s good now. The grip is changing a lot and there’s obviously a cleaning effect. But we’ve had a really good morning,” Neuville said.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta continues to lead the event, but the newly second-placed Neuville is just 2.9 seconds behind the Japanese driver.

Rovanperä is third in the rally, and he is only 3.3 seconds behind the leader. Rovanperä was in a relaxed mood at the finish of the Arganil stage.

“I can tell you one thing: black car plus this heat equals sweat,” Rovanperä quipped.

Hyundai’s Ott Tänak is fourth, ahead of Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier and Hyundai’s Dani Sordo. The top six are within less than ten seconds of each other.

There are four more special stages to be driven on Friday in the Rally de Portugal. The event concludes on Sunday.

Rally de Portugal standings after SS5/22:

1.Takamoto KatsutaToyota43:53.7
2.Thierry NeuvilleHyundai +2.9
3.Kalle RovanperäToyota +3.3
4.Ott TänakHyundai +4.1
5.Sebastien OgierToyota +7.5
6.Dani SordoHyundai +9.1
7.Adrien FourmauxFord +14.7
8.Elfyn EvansToyota +17.5
9. Gregoire MunsterFord +1:26.5
10. Oliver SolbergSkoda + 1:40.7

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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