After a very closely contested opening leg, the positions settled down and the gaps stretched between the crews on day two of Rally de Portugal. Continuing their solid race, Craig Breen and Scott Martin ended the day fifth overall. All four Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews remain in the race ahead of Sunday’s final sprint.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal (18-21 May 2017) – Day 2

– The longest day of the weekend took the crews to the east of Porto. The leg featured two runs on a loop consisting of three stages.

– Craig Breen and Scott Martin began the day in fifth place, after the stewards adjusted Thierry Neuville’s time on SS7, moving the Belgian up to fourth. On the first stage of the day, the no.8 C3 WRC crew’s lack of knowledge of the event proved costly, as they lost a position.

– On the next two speed tests, Craig took advantage of a couple of racing incidents to move up the overall standings. He made it to the mid-leg service in fourth position, 46.2s behind the leader.

– Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre was having to cope with his car’s lack of traction. As he completed more stages, he worked on the settings of the damper “clicks”. Having rejoined under Rally2 rules following yesterday’s minor impact, Kris Meeke also struggled to get the feeling back in the car.

– The second pass on the stages proved to be trickier for Craig Breen. On Amarante 2 (37.55km), the Irishman paid the price for a mistake with his tyre choice. He opted for a mix of soft and hard compound Michelin LTX Force tyres, but as the rear tyres became worn, he spun, losing around twenty seconds in the process. Ott Tänak took advantage to move ahead of him into fourth position, by 2.8s.

– Despite there being little at stake for them, Stéphane Lefebvre and Kris Meeke made the most of the changes made during the mid-leg service to improve in the afternoon loop. The Frenchman gained up to 8/10ths per kilometre compared with stage-winning times, whilst the Briton improved by 4/10ths.

– Khalid Al Qassimi continued his weekend of learning in the Citroën C3 WRC. Adapting the set-up as he completed the stages, the Abu Dhabi driver enjoyed another error-free day to remain in 19th overall.

– Tomorrow, the Rally de Portugal’s final leg will take the crews onto roads around Fafe. The legendary speed test will host the Power Stage.

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Although there were still quite a few incidents, the rally settled down a bit today. Once again, Craig Breen had a solid day. He should really be fourth tonight, but a mistake on tyre choice in service meant he couldn’t defend his chances properly on the final stage. However, that takes nothing away from what was a first rate performance. Tomorrow the aim will be to confirm this top five position and ensure all four cars make it to the end.”

Craig Breen
“It was difficult for me to compete with drivers who have contested some stages for the last three years. In any case, we managed to hold onto fourth place for most of the day and improve our understanding of the car. On Amarante 2, I had to cope with wear on the rear tyres and I made a little mistake, which let Tänak past. But the gap is less than three seconds and tomorrow is a proper leg, so we’ll see. I’m staying positive!”

Stéphane Lefebvre
“I struggled to get my bearings in the car this morning. It’s true that my road position was less favourable than yesterday. But as we completed more stages, and then during service, we made significant progress with the set-up. It was an instructive day.”

Kris Meeke
“I was unable to reproduce the level of performance I had yesterday. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact there wasn’t much at stake today, given that we rejoined under Rally2 rules. We worked on the set-up, and made some progress between the morning and afternoon loops.”

Khalid Al Qassimi
“Insofar as we were running second on the road, we inherited a tough situation because there was a lot of cleaning. Everything didn’t go perfectly today; I found myself with no ‘boost’ on SS14 and the car was very difficult to drive at that point. In any case, the C3 WRC has a huge amount of potential and I think I have made progress in driving the car.”

1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:15:24.6
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +16.8
3. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +51.3
4. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:29.6
5. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:32.4
6. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:01.8
7. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:29.8
8. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:16.6
… 14. Lefebvre / Moreau (Citroën C3 WRC) +11:15.6
… 18. Al Qassimi / Patterson (Citroën C3 WRC) +18:33.8
… 23. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +22:09.9











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