THIERRY Neuville was fastest in Thursday morning’s shakedown at Vodafone Rally de Portugal as Hyundai claimed the top two times.
The Belgian was 0.3sec quicker than i20 World Rally Car teammate Dani Sordo through the 4.61km Baltar test, with Ott Tänak completing the top three in a Ford Fiesta RS, 0.1 sec. further back.
Tänak, using DMACK’s new British-built tyres for the first time, was fastest through the opening two passes of the test on soft compound rubber, WRC.com reported.
However, Neuville moved to the top of the timesheets on the third of his four runs.
“It’s a good start to the weekend but it’s what happens on the rally itself that really matters,” said Neuville. “It was nice to have a good feeling with the car. We tested ahead of the rally and have some new differential settings which make me feel more comfortable.”
Kris Meeke, returning to WRC action for the first time since February’s Rally Sweden, was fourth in Citroën’s DS 3 with Volkswagen Polo R duo Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen tied in fifth, just t0.2 sec. behind the Briton.
Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon of New Zealand came in seventh.
None of the leading World Rally Car drivers suffered major problems, but in WRC 2 season debutant Scott Pedder of Australia rolled his new Skoda Fabia R5.
Top 10 times:
1. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) 3min 11.3sec
2. Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) 3min 11.6sec
3. Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta RS) 3min 11.7sec
4. Kris Meeke (Citroen DS 3) 3min 11.9sec
5= Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R) 3min 12.1sec
5= Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R) 3min 12.1sec
7. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20) 3min 12.2sec
8. Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R) 3min 12.4sec
9. Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroen DS 3) 3min 12.7sec
10. Kevin Abbring (Hyundai i20) 3min 13.6sec