OGIER FASTEST IN PORTUGAL OPENER

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OGIER FASTEST IN PORTUGAL OPENER

SÉBASTIEN Ogier won Thursday night’s opening speed test and went into the lead at Vodafone Rally de Portugal despite an engine problem on the startline at Lousada rallycross circuit.

The Frenchman was 0.9sec quicker than second-placed Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20, who was fastest at the morning shakedown. The Belgian’s teammate Dani Sordo was a further three-tenths slower.

Ogier said he had a turbocharger boost issue in his Volkswagen Polo R.

“I had no boost from the engine for the first few hundred metres, but then it came back. I hope the team can quickly check what it is and solve the problem,” he said.

More than 30,000 fans basked in the hot evening sunshine to watch the spectacular action from the first of 19 stages over four days.

Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth, despite almost stalling his Polo R twice, with teammate and 2015 winner Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke completing the top six.

This fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship continues on Friday when competitors face two identical loops of three gravel stages near Viana do Castelo, close to the Spanish border. Two asphalt street stages in the centre of Porto end the leg after 132.04km of competition.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.