Rallying-Tanak leads in Portugal as Neuville rolls

·2-min read
FIA World Rally Championship - Rally Sweden

LISBON (Reuters) - Hyundai's Ott Tanak led the Portuguese Rally after Friday's first leg while Belgian team mate and title contender Thierry Neuville rolled out of contention.

Neuville, second in the championship behind Toyota's Sebastien Ogier after three rounds, pushed the car upright after the stage seven accident before retiring with a broken suspension.

Estonian Tanak had a 6.0 second lead over Toyota's Elfyn Evans at the end of the day in central Portugal, with Hyundai's Dani Sordo a further three seconds behind.

Championship leader Ogier was fourth, 24 seconds off the lead.

In the third tier WRC3, former Chelsea and Olympique de Marseille soccer manager Andre Villas-Boas made it to the end of the first leg of his debut WRC rally in his Citroen C3. The 43-year-old was 15th of 24 in the category.

Sordo won two of the opening three gravel stages to lead at the midpoint with new co-driver Borja Rozada but he then stalled in the day's penultimate test and Tanak, who had a puncture in the afternoon, went in front.

"It hasn’t been trouble-free by any means, so it is positive to be leading the rally," said the Estonian.

"We did what we could to get the best out of the car on these gravel roads, but it was a demanding day. Although we took some stage wins, I felt that there was still room for improvement at times."

Neuville said he went into a corner too fast and as he tried to correct it "there was something like a tree stump that pulled us onto our side".

"We tried our best to fix things on the road section but sadly the suspension was damaged, so it was game over for the day."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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