Thierry Neuville edges Kris Meeke in Rally Portugal warm-up
Hyundai's Thierry Neuville edged Kris Meeke during Thursday's Rally Portugal warm-up, with just a tenth splitting the pair over the 4.60km Baltar speed test.
Recovering from his massive Rally Chile crash, which left the Belgian on crutches, Neuville flew to the top spot ahead of the Northern Irishman, whilst taking up the third spot was Teemu Suninen, a third of a second back.
"I'm feeling OK," reported Neuville. "Still a little bit of pain but when I’m driving and the helmet is on everything is fine.
"Friday’s stages are new so it might be an additional challenge for everybody with new pace notes. They are more challenging stages due to the fact they are a little narrower in some places and quite twisty in some sections. It will be a tough day."
Ott Tänak set the pace in the opening run in his Toyota Yaris before M-Sport Ford’s Suninen moved to the top of the rankings in the second pass.
As temperatures approached 30°C and the gravel roads became cleaner, Neuville posted the benchmark time in his third and final run. Meeke came close to matching him in his Toyota Yaris but fell just short in his fourth attempt.
Tänak’s opening run was good enough to hold fourth, tied with Sébastien Loeb’s i20. Dani Sordo rounded off the top six in another Hyundai.
Elfyn Evans suffered a power steering-related problem on his Fiesta at the finish of his opening run. The Welshman returned to the Matosinhos service park where the issue was repaired before heading back out for two more runs.