Dustbusted Neuville crashes out of Portugal, Tanak edges ahead

·2-min read
Dust busted: Thierry Neuville in action on Friday in Portugal before he was forced to retire

Thierry Neuville's opening day on the Rally of Portugal came to a premature end on Friday when he damaged his Hyundai in a crash on stage seven.

The Belgian was lying second in the world championship behind Sebastien Ogier arriving at this fourth leg of the season.

"We started off at a great pace this morning... Everything was under control but we were caught out by stage seven," he reported.

"The team will pick up the car and bring it back to the service park," Hyundai added.

Neuville's teammate Ott Tanak was leading ahead at the day's conclusion with Ogier, a winner here last year, in fifth after having to "sweep" the road due to his status as series leader.

The last stage of the day was a short super-special on a rallycross circuit.

"It was a demanding day, a lot of things happened with a lot of worries," said 2019 world champion Tanak who won in Portugal last season.

"I can't wait to rest before starting tomorrow," added Tanak, who started the weekend at fourth place in the championship having won in Finland last time out.

Toyota's Elfyn Evans was second overall, just six seconds behind the Estonian with Dani Sordo, in another Hyundai, back in third, nine seconds off the lead.

Ogier admitted having to open the race on Portugal's sandy gravel tracks did him few favours as he stood 24 seconds off the pace.

"The day was hard. We will see what we can do tomorrow with a few cars in front of us," said the Frenchman.

Standings at end of first day:

1. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (EST-Hyundai) 1 hour 22 minutes 35 seconds, 2. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR-Toyota) at 6 seconds, 3. Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada (ESP/Hyundai) 9, 4. Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (JPN/GBR-Toyota) 15.4,5. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (FRA-Toyota) 24, 6. Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/Toyota) 28.9, 7. Gus Greensmith/Eliot Edmondson (GBR/IRL-M-Sport Ford) 1 min 2.3, 8. Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (FRA/BEL-M-Sport Ford) 1 min 33.5sec, 9. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/Volkswagen) 1er WRC2 3 min 34.9sec

Stage winners: Sordo (SS2, SS3, SS5), Tanak (SS1, SS6, SS8), Rovanpera (SS4), Ogier (SS7)

Retirement: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL-Hyundai)