Neuville on brink of Portugal triumph as rivals falter

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Matosinhos (Portugal) (AFP)

Belgium's Thierry Neuville was on course for his second victory of this year's world rally championship on Saturday as a stream of rivals continued to falter.

Neuville, in a Hyundai, was 39.8 seconds ahead of Britain's Elfyn Evans in a Ford Fiesta with his teammate Daniel Sordo of Spain standing at 57.2 seconds off the lead.

Already a winner in Sweden this season, Neuville benefitted from the likely retirement of previous leader, Britain's Kris Meeke who barrel-rolled his Citroen on the 12th stage.

Five-time world champion Sebastien Ogier was already out of contention for victory having slipped off the course on Friday and into trees in his Ford Fiesta.

French star Ogier kept racing Saturday, even taking a consolation win on the day's final stage.

Other leading contenders such as Estonia's Ott Tanak, who had won the Rally of Argentina in a Toyota Yaris last time out, and New Zealand's Hayden Paddon, in a Hyundai, retired on Friday.