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Polish ace Kajetanowicz led the opening stage of the mostly gravel/part asphalt European Rally championship event in his Lotos Ford Fiesta R5, the 7km Batalha test, just ahead of local hero Ricardo Moura’s similar Ford.
But the latter eased into the lead with the fastest time on SS2, the quickfire Solucoes test, with Kajetanowicz slipping to third behind the Skoda Fabia of Ralfs Sirmacis – who won last time out at the Acropolis Rally.
Kajetanowicz fought back on SS3 to take the lead again, as Moura admitted being too hesitant on the longest stage of the day, the 13.4km Vila Franca Sao Bras.
The afternoon ended with a very soggy Superspecial in a quarry – where Kajetanowicz lost 6s to stage-winner Sirmacis, claiming his tyres were “destroyed”, but held on to the lead by a second.
Russia’s Alexey Lukyanuk claimed third place on the Superspecial in his Fiesta, despite an off that damaged the rear of his car, as Moura was slow again – blaming his hard-tyre choice – and dropped to fourth overall after his bright start.
There are another three stages tomorrow, including the fabled Sete Cidades test around the rim of a dormant volcano.
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