OGIER FLIES TO VICTORY IN PORTUGAL WARM-UP SPRINT

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OGIER FLIES TO VICTORY IN PORTUGAL WARM-UP SPRINT

PHOTO: Sebastien Ogier thrills a huge crowd as he flies to victory in the Fafe Rally Sprint (Volkswagen photo)

VOLKSWAGEN’S Sebastien Ogier will start Rally de Portugal on Thursday on a high after winning the Fafe Rally Sprint last weekend.

Driving his Polo R WRC, the reigning world champ won the third-round final by half a second from Ford Fiesta RS pilot Ott Tanak.

Last year’s Fafe winner Dani Sordo was third, 2.2sec adrift in a Hyundai i20.

Run for the past three years, the exhibition event takes place on a 6.34 kilometre section of the former Fafe-Lameirinha stage, near Porto in the north of Portugal.

It attracts an estimated 100,000 spectators to see the cars before the FIA World Rally Championship round starts in the southern Algarve region.

The most spectacular part of the stage is a jump shortly before the finishing line, where in 2000 Germany’s Armin Schwarz set the longest jump record of 73.5 metres.

“That was a amazing experience,” said Ogier, who interrupted his first run on Saturday afternoon to perform donuts mid-stage.

“The Portuguese WRC fans are about the most passionate in the world, so as a little thank you we drove with the Portuguese flag on the car and that seemed to go down well.

“The event itself was an incredible experience. On some parts of the stage you couldn’t see the landscape – only people! The stage is very demanding and the famous jump really is huge.

“Events like this are definitely a benefit for the rally sport and for sure next year we will not miss it!”