Tanak on top in topsy-turvy Portugal Rally

Estonian driver and co-driver, Ott Tanak and Raigo Molder, steer their Ford Fiesta WRC in Viana do Castelo, northern Portugal, on May 19, 2017, during the first stage of the Portugal WCR rally

Ford's Ott Tanak was still in the lead after the ninth super special of a topsy-turvy Rally of Portugal whose second day culminated with two city centre 1.9km sprints around the streets of Braga on Friday.

The Estonian Ford driver leads Spain's Dani Sordo by 4.6sec while world championship leader Sebastien Ogier is in third, five seconds behind.

The Frenchman climbed from sixth in the morning by winning the first of the two town centre stages while the second was taken by Mads Ostberg.

Earlier in the day the race lead had changed hands multiple times on the narrow sandy paths around Viana do Castelo.

"The ruts are deep and it's hard for anyone to really get away," Ford's Chris Meeke said during a day in which he also briefly grabbed the lead of a rally he won last season.

The Irishman is now fourth at 12.9sec.

A rare dead heat in a thrilling opening super stage Thursday Thierry Neuville and Ostberg shared the overnight lead before a succession of changes left Tanak top after six specials, and he clung on for the overnight lead

Standings after Friday's stages:

1. Ott Tänak-Raigo Molder (EST/Ford Fiesta) 1hr 37min 18.5sec, 2. Dani Sordo-Marc Marti (ESP/Hyundai i20) at 4.6sec, 3. Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Ford Fiesta) 5.0, 4. Craig Breen-Scott Martin (IRL-GBR/Citroën C3) 12.9, 5. Elfyn Evans-Craig Parry (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 18.3, 6. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 22.7, 7. Juho Hänninen-Kaj Lindstrom (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 52.0, 8. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 1min 12.3sec, 9. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger Synnevaag (NOR/Skoda Fabia R5) 3min 17.8sec, 10. Mads Ostberg-Ola Floene (NOR/Ford Fiesta) 3min 50.0sec


Ostberg 2 (SS1, SS9), Neuville 2 (SS1, SS6), Paddon 2 (SS2, SS5), Latvala 1 (SS3), Meeke 1 (SS4), Tänak 1 (SS4), Breen 1 (SS4), Sordo 1 (SS7), Ogier 1 (SS8).