Rally of Portugal: Mikko Hirvonen opens up lead after drama in Portugal
Last Updated: 04/04/14 7:52pm
Mikko Hirvonen in action in Portugal
Mikko Hirvonen opened up a 3.7-second lead at the end of the dramatic first full day of the Rally of Portugal.
The Ford star stayed out of trouble on a dramatic day which saw big accidents for the likes of Jari-Matti Latvala, Kris Meeke, Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica.
The Finn kept his nose clean and finished in the top three in all of Friday's stages, winning one.
The 33-year-old's consistency was rewarded with narrow lead over M-Sport Ford team-mate Ott Tanak, while reigning champion Sebastien Ogier was in close attendance at the wheel of the VW Polo, just 6.5 secs off the lead.
But the big crashes were the talking points of the day.
Polish star Kubica was first to go, the former F1 star crashing his Ford Fiesta RS on the fourth stage, ripping a front wheel off his car.
Welshman Evans was another man left with a severely battered Fiesta on the fourth stage, rolling over a number of times after missing his braking 17km into the test and coming to rest at the bottom of a steep hill.
The following test, stage five, saw another big name hit trouble as Ogier's team-mate Latvala - running second at the time - crashed and rolled out of contention.
And the final stage of the day served up yet more drama as Meeke crashed his Citroen DS3 in nearly the exact spot where Evans had earlier gone off.
Citroen's Mads Ostberg tiptoed his way through the carnage to finish the day in fourth place, a little under half a minute off the lead and with Dani Sordo's Hyundai in close attendance in fifth.
The second Hyundai of Thierry Neuville was sixth, ahead of Henning Solberg, Juho Hanninen, Andreas Mikkelsen and Martin Prokop.