And from the first kilometres onwards, Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger-Synnevaag stormed into the lead of Rally Portugal. On all of the nine stages in the north of Porto near the Spanish border, they set the fastest times and led the rally on Friday evening by more than one minute.
Pontus Tidemand and co-driver Jonas Andersson were facing attacks of the two M-Sport Ford Teams Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula and Eric Camilli / Benjamin Veillas. While Camilli eventually could no longer match the speed, Tidemand and Suninen were fighting for second tooth and nails on each stage.
After Tidemand made some changes to the set up of his ŠKODA FABIA R5 at midday service, the battle with Suninen continued. The Swedish ŠKODA Team finished the Friday leg on third only 2,3 seconds behind the Finn.
In the WRC 2 category at Rally Portugal 2017, 20 teams and five brands are fighting for victory and championship points. In total, six ŠKODA FABIA R5 are registered to score in WRC 2 championship, three more ŠKODA FABIA were at the start in R2 class.
Saturday will feature the longest leg of the rally with a mixture of sandy roads, rocks and deep ruts especially on the second pass of the stages. Even more than it has been already on Friday, the right tyre choice between soft compounds for more traction and hard compound in order to manage tyre wear on the long stages will be crucial. During leg 2 he teams have to face six special stages totalling more than 150 kilometres. The longest test of the Rally Portugal will be the Amarante stage with 38 kilometres on gravel.
|2017 Rally de Portugal – WRC2 standings after Leg 1:|
|1.||Mikkelsen / Jæger (NOR/NOR)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||1:40:36.3 hrs|
|2.||Suninen / Markkula (FIN/FIN)||Ford Fiesta R5||+1:04.5 min|
|3.||Tidemand / Andersson (SWE/SWE)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+1:06.8 min|