Rally de Portugal
Ogier sets Portugal shakedown pace
Sebastien Ogier has gone fastest in shakedown for Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia set a quickest time of 3m08.5s over the 5.03-kilometre Vale de Judeau practice stage, which was held in warm and sunny conditions a short distance from the service park in Faro.
Ogier, who claimed his maiden World Rally Championship victory in Portugal last season, said: “Everything was okay and we are happy with the performance. We did not make any major changes to the set-up of the car, just some small details.”
Sebastien Loeb, Ogier’s Citroen team-mate and the seven-time world rally champion, was second fastest, one-tenth of a second slower than Ogier.
Factory Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala was a further two-tenths of a second adrift in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC with Petter Solberg fourth overall in his DS3 WRC.
Mads Ostberg was fifth quickest in the lead M-Sport Stobart Fiesta with Mikko Hirvonen sixth in the second works Ford. Ostberg’s M-Sport Stobart team-mates Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson were next up with Kimi Raikkonen and Federico Villagra completing the top 10.
Solberg’s car was carrying a revised colour scheme in deference to new sponsor Ludo Mobil, a Norwegian mobile network provider. Rather than the familiar orange colour scheme that had flanked his Fiesta to date, Solberg’s car is now running a multi-coloured livery.
The stage was interrupted following Ken Block’s crash but all leading drivers are understood to have completed their planned number of runs as they finalise their preparations for the third event of the WRC season, which gets underway in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on Thursday afternoon. Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino were taken to hospital for precautionary checks after rolling their Fiesta but a spokesperson for their Monster World Rally Team confirmed they are okay.
The shakedown stage marked the first appearance on a WRC event for MINI’s Super 2000-specification John Cooper Works. Portuguese hero Armindo Araujo, the reigning Production Car world champion, was 10.4s off the pace in his Motorsport Italia-run entry. Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira suffered a brief off during his first proper run in shakedown but his car was undamaged.