WRC Thierry Neuville fastest in Paredes shakedown stage in Portugal
For immediate release
Thursday, May 30th, 2019
NEUVILLE FASTEST IN PAREDES SHAKEDOWN STAGE
MATOSINHOS (PORTUGAL): Belgian driver Thierry Neuville carded the quickest time in the 4.6km Shakedown stage at Paredes on Thursday morning.
The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC pilot stopped the clocks in a time of 3min 02.1sec on the last of his three passes through the short gravel special. Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kris Meeke and M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen rounded off the top three positions at the start of the 53rd Vodafone Rally of Portugal.
World Champion Sébastien Ogier laid down the gauntlet with an opening time of 3min 06.8sec at the start of the morning’s test session, but Ott Tänak stormed to the top of the rankings on his first pass with a 3min 02.7sec and that was 0.2sec quicker than the time set by Kris Meeke.
After his first pass through a shakedown in a World Rally Car as a member of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, young Briton Gus Greensmith said: “The car is insane. It’s as I expected it to be….so much fun. We just need to build into it and enjoy yourselves.”
WRC 2 Pro front-runner Mads Østberg said: “We have some upgrades and have been working to improve in slippery conditions. This weekend has a bit more high grip and I am not concerned at all.”
After a first run in the new Skoda Fabia R5 Evo, Harri Rovanperä said: “It feels good. It is nice to be finally in the car. We have been testing a lot and now we can go into the rally with the new car.”
The Finn’s team-mate Jan Kopecký added: “I think the new car will be good. We will see how fast it can be during the rally.”
Toyota held the top three positions at one point after several drivers had taken their second runs and the status quo lasted until Teemu Suninen posted an impressive run of 3min 03.0sec and then hit the top of the rankings with a third pass of 3min 02.5sec. Neuville was not to be denied, however, on his third run and the Belgian hit the front after shaving 0.4 seconds off Suninen’s time.
Greensmith continued to impress on his debut in the factory team and bettered his times with a fourth run of 3min 03.8sec, while Sébastian Loeb moved up to third and a tie with Tänak. A useful time by a returning Dani Sordo pushed Ogier to the foot of the WRC pack before Meeke moved up to second with 30 minutes of the extended session to run.
2019 Vodafone Rally of Portugal – fastest shakedown times (P1 drivers @ 11.52hrs):
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3min 02.1sec
2. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Sebastian Marshall (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 3min 02.2sec
3. Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Marko Salminen (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC 3min 02.5sec
4. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC 3min 02.7sec
5. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3min 02.7sec
6. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3min 03.0sec
7. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 3min 03.2sec
8. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Citroën C3 WRC 3min 03.4sec
9. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC 3min 03.8sec
9. Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Elliott Edmondson (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC 3min 03.8sec
11. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 3min 04.5sec
For further media information:
Miguel Fonseca, National Rally Press Officer, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Lluisa Torras, International Media Relations, email: email@example.com, Mobile: +34 629 924073.