Tanak and Toyota dominate opening day in Portuguese rally

Matosinhos (Portugal) (AFP) –


Ott Tanak dominated the first day of the Portuguese Rally on Friday, leading a trio of Toyotas through the dust and into the top places in the seventh leg of the world championship.

The Estonian, who won the previous rally in Chile to climb to second in the driver standings, took two of the seven stages in the region round Porto. He finished the day 17.3 seconds ahead of Finn Jari-Matti Latvala and 22.8 clear of Briton Kris Meeke.

"Tough day," the Estonian said. "We managed to do it and now we have to do the rest of the trip".

The best non-Toyota was Belgian Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai, 24.2sec back. Championship leader Sebastien Ogier was fifth in a Citroen at 25.8sec.

Neuville won the last two stages of the day and then said he was aiming to finish second to Tanak.

"Smoother afternoon," he said. "Goal has to be P2. Ott was flying today."

Frenchman Ogier said he was happy with fifth.

"I would have signed with both hands to be where I am tonight," said the Frenchman. "I think we did everything we could today."

The Hyundais of Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo were 31st and 33rd of the 33 cars after both suffering fuel supply problems on the third stage.

"It's a disaster," said Sordo.

Andrea Adamo, the team director, had difficulty containing his anger.

"There's a problem in the fuel system. We are not so stupid as to not calculate the amount of fuel needed," he said.

Two Ford drivers also had mechanical issues.

Teemu Suninen won a special stage but then suffered a brake failure. He still finished the day sixth. Elfyn Evans had an accelerator problem and dropped to 16th.

On Saturday, the competitors will race six stages. They finish with five on Sunday morning, the last the Fafe Powerstage with its legendary jump.

Standings after Friday's seven stages:

1. Ott Tänak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 1hrs 3min 26.7sec, 2. Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/Toyota Yaris) at 17.3, 3. Kris Meeke-Sebastian Marshall (GBR/Toyota Yaris)22.8, 4. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 24.2, 5. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Citroen C3)25.8, 6. Teemu Suninen-Marko Salminen (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 1:15.7, 7. Gus Greensmith-Elliott Edmondson (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 1:22.1, 8. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Citroëen C3) 1:23.7,