Meeke dominates Ogier to eye Portugal win

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Matosinhos (Portugal) (AFP)

Britain's Kris Meeke shrugged off having missed the last two races to open a 45-second gap over world champion Sebastien Ogier at the Rally of Portugal on Saturday.

Meeke, who is only competing in a reduced schedule this season, was in complete control in his Citroen, winning the three morning stages to extend his lead to almost a minute.

He maintained his advantage in the afternoon and made the most of the clear track after Ogier's VW Polo, starting higher up the order, had swept away the loose gravel.

"I was thinking about protecting my lead. I took two spare tyres but it was difficult to manage as it changed the attitude and balance of the car on roads that were narrow and required quick changes of direction," said Meeke.

Ogier goes into Sunday's final day under pressure from VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen who is just three seconds behind.

"I did everything I could but it was a terrible afternoon for me. The grip was hard to handle and the rear of the car was off line," said Ogier.