We continue our build up to Vodafone Rally Portugal (17-20 May) by casting our minds back to 2017 when Sébastien Ogier claimed his fifth win at the event to match the record of Finnish legend, Markku Alén. Here’s how the dramatic event unfolded…
Thursday 18 /Friday 19 May
Thierry Neuville and Mads Østberg tied for the lead after Thursday night’s superspecial at the Lousada rallycross circuit, but it was Ott Tänak that held the overall advantage at the end of Friday.
The Estonian steered his Ford Fiesta to a 4.6sec advantage over Dani Sordo, while team-mate Ogier was next up in third, albeit only 0.4sec further back.
Six drivers held the rally lead at different times on the first day, including Hayden Paddon, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. However, all three men hit trouble in the final Ponte de Lima test.
Paddon’s Hyundai i20 Coupe stopped with an electrical problem that cost almost 11 minutes, while Latvala rolled his Toyota Yaris. Meeke broke his Citroën C3’s suspension and retired.
As the dust settled, Tänak secured the lead from Sordo, who catapulted from seventh to second amid the unfolding drama.
Thierry Neuville was denied a hat-trick of wins by Sébastien Ogier in Portugal
Saturday 20 May
A costly error in Saturday’s third stage ended Tänak’s dreams of taking his first FIA World Rally Championship win.
Ogier, who had overtaken Sordo as the Spaniard battled with the handling of his Hyundai, started to apply the pressure on his rally-leading team-mate.
Unfortunately for Tänak, he lost his focus and collided with a bank at the side of the road. The impact caused brake and suspension damage – costing him 90sec.
That promoted Ogier into the lead and he held firm to carve out a 23.0sec lead over Neuville who drove the second leg neatly.
Sordo ended the day in third, more than half a minute off Ogier’s benchmark pace, while Tänak recovered to claim fourth. He was just ahead of Craig Breen and Elfyn Evans.
Sunday 21 May
With a landmark fifth Portugal victory in sight, Ogier expertly managed his lead on the final day to claim his second victory of the season by 15.6sec from Neuville.
The Belgian was hoping to net a hat-trick of wins after scoring success in Corsica and Argentina but he couldn’t match Ogier’s pace. He did, however, manage to beat team-mate Sordo into third place by a margin of 46.1sec.
Tänak reached the final time control in fourth place, while Breen was fifth – more than a minute clear of Evans’ Fiesta.
“After the struggle we had in the last round, it’s fantastic to be back on the top step of the podium again,” Ogier said. “I had a new car in Monte-Carlo and we won, I had a new car here and we won. I’m not sure if the team can afford to give me a new car for every rally