The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team experienced a tough first full day on Rally Portugal, which proved to be day of attrition among all the teams. While Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala were forced to stop during the morning after impacts damaged their cars, Esapekka Lappi made his way up the leaderboard during the afternoon to complete the day in fifth overall.
Tänak started the day as the rally leader after winning Thursday night’s opening stage, but his event came to an early end on this morning’s first test when he hit several large rocks lying in the road in a fast left-hand corner. This damaged the radiator on his car, which in turn caused damage to the engine, so he will not restart the rally. Latvala came to a stop on the next stage with broken suspension after he hit a rock: the team was able to repair his car and he will restart under Rally 2 rules tomorrow.
Lappi ended the morning loop in 11th place after struggling with a lack of grip but was much stronger in the afternoon after he improved the setup of his Toyota Yaris WRC during mid-day service. Even though he was suffering from a broken damper, he managed to gain several places as others hit trouble over extremely rough and rocky stages.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Today has really shown just how tough rallying and motorsport can be. One day it can be very good and on another day it can be very, very hard. Today was not our day, but we must try to stay positive. Everything was looking very good for Ott. I think it was one of the biggest disappointments we have had, because he has been looking so strong. I am sure he will come back fighting in Sardinia. Everybody was very disappointed for Jari-Matti too, because I know that he really wanted a clean rally here. The team has done an excellent job to repair his car so that he can restart tomorrow and hopefully he can show his speed. Esapekka was struggling a bit this morning but he felt much better this afternoon and could make up some places on some incredibly rough stages – we could see that these were really difficult conditions for everybody. His road position will not be easy tomorrow but I think he has a chance to score some good points.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“On the first stage I was a bit too cautious, but on the second stage I started to push more. Then about five kilometres into the stage, in a left-right corner combination, there was a rock in the line, which was in my pace-notes. I went over the rock as intended but immediately the front-right suspension was damaged, and I had to stop. The team has worked hard to fix the car and we will be able to carry on tomorrow. I’m very motivated to continue. I really want to drive now, because I have a very good feeling with the car and I am enjoying driving it.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was very, very unfortunate what happened to us this morning. Quite early in the first stage we came across a place where the road was full of rocks: there were not just one or two rocks but four or five. We could not avoid them and they caused damage to our radiator. We had to stop soon afterwards with an engine issue, which it was not possible to repair here. We were in a strong position coming into this rally, and like the previous rally I had a really good feeling in the car. It’s a hit for our championship bid but it’s never over before it’s over, so I will still keep fighting. We will aim for a big fight-back in Sardinia: we know we have the performance.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“The morning wasn’t the best for me as I struggled a bit with the confidence. The car itself was fine but I didn’t feel like we had much lateral grip, so I just couldn’t push as much as I wanted to. This afternoon the conditions were some of the roughest I have seen in my career, with so many rocks on the road. We changed a lot of things on the car during the mid-day service and that helped. The first stage this afternoon was immediately better. Then we had a small issue with the damper and we had to manage that until the end of the day, but the times were still not too bad. I think we are in a fighting position for tomorrow.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h37m30.7s
2 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +17.7s
3 Dani Sordo/Carlos Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +24.3s
4 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +34.4s
5 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +45.8s
6 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +48.3s
7 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m18.7s
8 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m27.3s
9 Gus Greensmith/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +6m57.1s
10 Lukasz Pieniazek/Przemyslaw Mazur (Skoda Fabia R5) +7m31.4s
TBC Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +48m48.1s
Retired Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 21:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Tomorrow consists of six stages, held in the Cabreira Mountains to the east of host city Porto. There are three stages each run twice either side of mid-day service, including the longest test of the rally: the 37.6 kilometres of Amarante.
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