Short recap of four, out of five stages that make up day one of Rally Portugal, would be: Mads Solberg rolled out of the way of the cautious Seb Ogier, chased by rebooted Dani Sordo.
Even though it’s Ogier at the top, after four “proper” special stages, I’d say Sordo is the star of the day. Superb performance, very confident driving and very calm and collected Dani – as if Mexico and Sweden never happened. What a comeback. For now, Sordo is keeping it on the road and well under control, and that seems to be his plan for the rest of the weekend.
Perhaps Sordo isn’t pushing to the limit, but that did not stop him to claim two stage wins. Remember, he is supposed to be a tarmac specialist!
At the same time, Ogier was suffering a bit – softer tyres did not offer too much in terms of durability, so Frenchman had to use all his knowledge in order to nurse the only set available to the crews in today “four-stages-no-service” stint. He did it in style, and is currently leading, but with smallest of margins.
Third place is currently in the hands of Jari-Matti Latvala, who was again lacking confidence and even being, again, hard on himself, but eventually, he was able to find a solid pace and is, hopefully, satisfied with really not that big of a gap behind the leading Ogier and Sordo.
Two WRC newcomers, Andreas Mikkelsen and Robert Kubica, had an eventful day. Mikkelsen suffered a late powersteering failure on final stage and lost some time, and Kubica had a broken radiator on SS2, which he was able to fix in time. On SS4 he had a puncture, but among these issues, he produced superb show – and is quickly closing the gap to the more experienced drivers.
Crews are now on their way to Lisboa, for the super special stage, and that will wrap up the day, but there are still good few hours before that stage gets under way.