Mikko Hirvonen has taken the early lead in Rally de Portugal after setting the fastest time on Thursday evening’s Algarve Stadium Superspecial.

The Ford Focus RS WRC driver completed the 2 kilometre test in 2 min 9.3sec, winning his heat with Sebastien Loeb and completing the stage one-tenth of a second quicker than Munchi’s team driver Federico Villagra who was his closest rival.

Thousands of fans crammed into the football stadium to watch the night time stage.

"It’s a great way to start the rally!" said Hirvonen. "Okay, it’s only a short stage but it’s always really nice to win - and a big pleasure to beat Sebastien! Tomorrow is when the real action starts, though.”

The first section of the rally continues on Friday when drivers leave Faro from 8am local time to tackle six gravel stages in the hills north of the town.

Get live stage times HERE


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