13th Career Win for Latvala in Volkswagen Clean Sweep – Rally de Portugal 2015 Report

The fifth round of the 2015 World Rally Championship took place on the tricky gravel roads of Rally de Portugal, which this year had relocated to Matosinhos for the first time since 2001. In a rally where only half a minute covered the top three, it was Jari-Matti Latvala who finally broke his duck in 2015 by recording a win over his Volkswagen team-mates Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen.

The first day of action saw the crews tackle 132km across 7 stages, though the repeat pass of the longest stage of the day was cancelled. Latvala was quickest out of the blocks, taking advantage of his relatively good road position to hold an 11 second lead over the winner last time out in Argentina, Kris Meeke. Mikkelsen held third place whilst Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo were the best placed Ford and Hyundai in 4th and 5th respectively. Ogier struggled with having to sweep the gravel surfaces and was down in 6th at the close of the day, though when you consider he was only 26 seconds behind Latvala, there was still all to play for at the top of the leader board. The stages weren’t allowing everyone to have a clean run through, with Lorenzo Bertelli, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Elfyn Evans all experiencing major problems, with the latter being the last classified runner with a deficit of an hour and a half to the leaders.

Rally Portugal 2015 Latvala

Day two was made up of six stages, including two passes through the longest stage of the rally, and marked the start of Ogier’s climb up the standings. He won all three stages in the afternoon to soar up to second overall, with less than ten seconds separating him from the rally leader Latvala. Meeke slipped to third on the last stage of the day and admitted that he wasn’t going to take huge risks to keep up with the leading pair. However, he was in serious danger of losing his podium place as Mikkelsen closed right up. Tanak was in a lonely 5th whilst there was a battle developing over 6th place between the Hyundai cars of Sordo and Hayden Paddon, and the Citroen of Mads Ostberg. The third Hyundai of Thierry Neuville stopped on the opening stage of the day from 9th place, marking a miserable weekend for the Belgian.

Rally Portugal 2015 Citroen

Just over 50km separated the cars from the finish but the battle between the two Volkswagens raged on but Latvala’s win on the longest stage of the day gave him a small cushion going into the power stage. Despite Ogier flying through, Latvala was the second quickest car and so only dropped a couple of seconds, giving him his first victory of the season and his first points since Monte Carlo in January. Ogier’s second place increased his Championship lead even further whilst Mikkelsen made it an all-Volkswagen podium, taking second in the Championship in the process, with Meeke the best non VW but less than a minute off the lead. The only other change in the top eight was Ostberg passing Paddon for 7th, with Robert Kubica and Martin Prokop completing the top ten.

In WRC 2, a star-studded entry list was reflected in a hugely exciting rally which finished with a win for Qatari driver and rallying veteran Nasser Al-Attiyah. He took the lead on stage 6 after problems for Estonian Karl Kruuda and, despite a large time loss on the penultimate stage of the rally, beat the all new Skoda Fabia R5 of Esapekka Lappi by just 12 seconds, with the similar car of Pontus Tidemand completing the podium. Julien Maurin won the battle of the Frenchmen against Stephane Lefebvre’s Citroen for 4th place. The rally also was a miserable one for some of the WRC 2 stars; Craig Breen suffered terminal engine problems on only the second stage of the rally whilst Jari Ketomaa’s rally came to a brutal end with an accident putting him out of 7th place. Yazeed Al-Rajhi was in the hunt for victory but was forced to retire with mechanical problems on stage 10 and the unlucky Kruuda ended up just one place outside of the points. This result left Ketomaa as Championship leader despite his retirement but Al-Attiyah was just 5 points behind.

Rally Portugal 2015 SkodaR5

The winner in both WRC 3 and JWRC was Frenchman Quentin Gilbert, who took the lead on stage 6 and didn’t relinquish it. Before that however it was Simone Tempestini who was quickest out of the blocks, before problems forced him to retire from the day, leaving him down in 7th overall and 6th in JWRC. Gilbert’s closest challenger at the close of the first day was his countryman Terry Folb but he retired on the opening stage of day two. That meant another Frenchman, Pierre-Louis Loubet, claimed second place, albeit three and a half minutes behind Gilbert, with Henri Haapamäki taking third. All of the podium finishers and all but two in the top 10 were eligible for JWRC points, with the highest placed non-JWRC car being Andrea Crugnola’s Renault Clio in 6th place. With two wins from two Gilbert already holds a healthy lead in the JWRC Championship over Ole Christian Veiby, who took 5th in Portugal. However it is Veiby who holds the lead in WRC 3 courtesy of a win in Sweden.

Rally Portugal 2015 Logo

Final Classifications – Rally de Portugal 2015

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 J. Latvala M. Anttila Volkswagen Polo R WRC 3:30:35.3
2 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo R WRC +8.2
3 A. Mikkelsen O. Floene Volkswagen Polo R WRC +28.6
4 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroen DS3 WRC +48.7
5 O. Tanak R. Molder Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1:56.8
6 D. Sordo M. Marti Hyundai i20 WRC +2:27.9
7 M. Ostberg J. Andersson Citroen DS3 WRC +2:32.2
8 H. Paddon J. Kennard Hyundai i20 WRC +2:54.3
9 R. Kubica M. Szczepaniak Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4:39.1
10 M. Prokop J. Tomanek Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7:31.2

WRC 2 Final Classifications

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 N. Al-Attiyah M. Baumel Ford Fiesta RRC 3:41:35.3
2 E. Lappi J. Ferm Skoda Fabia R5 +12.0
3 P. Tidemand E. Axelsson Skoda Fabia R5 +37.8
4 J. Maurin N. Klinger Ford Fiesta RRC +2:59.6
5 S. Lefebvre S. Prevot Citroen DS3 R5 +3:16.9
6 A. Al-Kuwari M. Clarke Ford Fiesta RRC +4:22.8
7 N. Fuchs F. Mussano Ford Fiesta R5 +12:25.8
8 V. Gorban V. Korsia Mini Cooper S2000 +13:01.4
9 S. Parn J. Morgan Ford Fiesta R5 +15:14.6
10 A. Kremer P. Winklhofer Skoda Fabia R5 +18:41.2

WRC 3/JWRC Final Classifications

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 Q. Gilbert R. Jamoul Citroen DS3 R3T Max 4:03:52.5
2 P. Loubet V. Bellotto Citroen DS3 R3T Max +3:40.6
3 H. Haapamäki M. Salminen Citroen DS3 R3T Max +5:07.8
4 J. Perry J. Reibel Citroen DS3 R3T Max +7:13.3
5 O. Veiby A. Jaeger Citroen DS3 R3T Max +10:26.8
6* A. Crugnola M. Ferrara Renault Clio RS R3T +12:51.3
7 S. Tempestini M. Chiarcossi Citroen DS3 R3T Max +15:59.7
8 F. Della Casa D. Pozzi Citroen DS3 R3T Max +16:43.1
9 D. McKenna A. Grennan Citroen DS3 R3T Max +16:59.4
10* F. Andolfi S. Scattolin Peugeot 208 VTi R2 +17:55.7

* = Not eligible for JWRC points

WRC Drivers’ Championship after Round 5

Pos. Driver Name Portugal Points Overall Points
1 S. Ogier 21 105
2 A. Mikkelsen 16 63
3 M. Ostberg 6 57
4 K. Meeke 12 47
5 J. Latvala 27 46
6 E. Evans 41
7 D. Sordo 8 36
8 T. Neuville 35
9 M. Prokop 1 26
10 O. Tanak 10 23

WRC Manufacturers’ Championship after Round 5

Pos. Team Name Portugal Points Overall Points
1 Volkswagen 43 146
2 Citroen 18 103
3 Hyundai 9 94
4 M-Sport 10 81
5 Jipocar 2 34
6 Volkswagen II 15 30
7 Hyundai N 4 13
8 F.W.R.T 3

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