Matosinhos, Portugal - Hyundai's Belgian driver Thierry Neuville retook the lead in the World Rally Championship from France’s Sebastian Ogier on Sunday after winning the Portuguese Rally.
Briton Elfyn Evans finished second in a Ford Fiesta, 7.3 seconds ahead of team-mate Teemu Suninen of Finland, and 40 seconds behind Neuville.
Neuville steered clear of trouble on rocky dirt roads to win the sixth round of the series and demote five-times champion Ogier from the top of the standings.
Title challengers Ogier and Ott Tanak ended pointless after falling foul of Friday’s rock-strewn speed tests and Neuville pressed home his advantage by claiming four extra bonus points in the final Power Stage.
Those extra points moved Neuville 19 points clear of Ogier and 47 ahead of Tanak, with the series approaching its midpoint.
"It was a clever approach all weekend,” Neuville said. “I had a fantastic car which was working well and I felt comfortable. "We can be proud of what we achieved here. There are a lot of Portuguese mechanics in the team and I think the party is going to be big tonight.”
Results – Rally de Portugal
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3:49:46.6
2 E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +40.0
3 T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC +47.3
4 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:00.9
5 E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:04.7
6 M. Østberg / T. Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:33.5
7 C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +5:23.0
8 P. Tidemand / J. Andersson (Škoda Fabia R5) +14:10.8
9 L. Pieniazek / P. Mazur (Škoda Fabia R5) +16:17.3
10 S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau (Citroën C3 R5) +16:34.3
Points after six rounds - Drivers
1 T. Neuville 119
2 S. Ogier 100
3 O. Tanak 72
4 D. Sordo 60
5 E. Lappi 55
6 A. Mikkelsen 54
7 E. Evans 45
8 K. Meeke 43
9 J.M Latvala 31
10 C. Breen 26
1 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team - 175
2 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - 162
3 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team - 140
4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 111Reuters