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Italia Portugal14aAfter a tricky start to SS2, the opening stage of Day One proper, Max Rendina had a strong morning overall at Rally de Portugal in his Ralliart Italy-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. A few teething troubles with pace notes on the alien Portuguese roads cost Rendina the lead of the WRC 2 Group N Cup on SS2, but he retook control on SS3, before winning four of day’s six stages. Even a 10 second penalty for late check-in before SS4 and a puncture on SS5 couldn’t stop him as he extended his midday lead of 26.5 seconds to 1 minute 38 seconds by the end of Day One.

Wet and muddy stages were a concern during recce, but the single water splash on today’s itinerary went well for Rendina as he gradually acclimatised to the conditions on his first competitive outing in Portugal. He took the muddier sections steady, recognising the limitations of being new to an event and choosing to learn the stages before pushing too hard. This strategy seemed to pay dividends. He heads into Day Two for his third rally in-a-row leading the Group N Cup and focused on getting through the full rally itinerary to reach the finish and scoop some more points for his so far perfect tally of fifty out of a possible fifty.

Rendina feels good and is looking forward to the challenge tomorrow presents: “It wasn’t an easy day today, but I enjoyed it! It’s my first time here in Portugal and it’s great to be competing on another new rally, but I need to learn the stages. Everything’s going well so far, but we know that this is rally and anything can happen. It’s a long way to the finish and that’s where we have our sights set!”

Ralliart Italy Team Manager Bruno De Pianto is pleased with Rendina’s current performance and hopes he can stay in front for the rest of the weekend: “Yet again I’m impressed with Max. He approaches rallies he has no experience on with a really professional attitude, never pushing too hard and taking time to learn every stage. To have a driver that can do that and still be at the front of his category – I can’t really ask anything more of him! Max and his co-driver Mario are great to work with and create a really good atmosphere in the team. We’re lucky to have them on board this year!”

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