Suming up this second day of the rally:
A chaotic second day of the 2012 Vodafone Rally de Portugal came to a premature end due to adverse weather and safety concerns. Several drivers left the road in slippery conditions and poor visibility. The hopes of Ott Tanak, Craig Breen, Hayden Paddon and Daniel Oliveira were dashed because of the conditions. The added issue of road sections flooding forced organisers to cancel the rest of the day’s stages in the name of safety.
The first stage of the day set the tone. Heavy rain in places, road surfaces offering wildly varying amounts of grip and fog reducing visibility to as little as 10 meters ensured that no driver could push hard. Those who did found themselves in trouble,e much like Jari-Matti Latvala who went off the road on the opening stage just 1.3km from the flying finish. The same fate was suffered by teammate, Petter Solberg who left the road on SS6, though neither car suffered major damage. Both Ford drivers will re-start the rally tomorrow for day three.
Those who did successfully make it to the end of the day’s stages were more satisfied with having simply finished the stage rather than set an impressive time. Qatar World Rally Team driver, Nasser Al Attiyah admitted he could easily see why so many people were going off the road after a few near misses himself. Armindo Araujo later explained that the levels of grip changed constantly, making it nearly impossible to drive the car and gain any confidence.
However, it was the road section between SS6 and SS7 that would raise greatest concern due to flooding. What started off as an unanticipated water splash quickly grew into a torrent of water, washing away the road. Yazeed Al Rajhi was almost a victim of the freak conditions after his Fiesta S2000 got stuck but luckily, he was recovered by a fellow competitor.
During the afternoon service break the organisers made the decision to cancel the remaining stages of the day amidst fears of emergency services being unable to reach cars should there be an incident. There was also concern for the safety of any spectators on the remote stages.
The aggressive weather wasn’t bad news for everyone. Dani Sordo capitalised on his primary position on the road, finishing stages much faster than the following drivers. He too expressed concerns about grip and visibility, though he admitted he was just trying to finish the stages and enjoy the rally. He’s currently in 13th position on the event.
Another driver to benefit was Mikko Hirvonen who now leads the Portuguese event. With both Fords retiring, he maintained a steady pace and focused on finishing the stages rather than the times. At stage end he confessed that the day’s conditions were probably the worst he has ever driven in. He currently leads over M-Sport driver, Evgeny Novikov by 36.3 seconds. Third is held by Mads Ostberg who lies 41.8 seconds off the lead.