M-Sport’s Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja are in the hunt for another FIA World Rally Championship victory – locked in an intense battle for the win at this weekend’s Orlen 74th Rally Poland.
Fresh from their maiden victory at Rally Italia Sardegna, the pairing continued where they left off. From the hot and twisty tracks of Sardinia, to the fast and decidedly damp roads of Poland, the Estonians have delivered and currently hold second place in the overall standings.
As torrential rain battered the super-fast stages, the lead changed hands four times – and Tänak led the way after the second pass of Swietajno (SS8) before falling just 1.3 seconds adrift at the end of the day.
With more than half the rally distance left to contest, there remains all to play for and Tänak will be keen to add another strong result to his ever-improving résumé.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been an extremely difficult day with some very tricky conditions, but we’ve got another close and exciting battle at the head of the field which is great to see.
“Ott and Martin have driven very well and made the most of their running order. They’ve not taken too many risks, and there’s more to come with a lot of kilometres left to contest.
“Sebastien and Julien also drove very well this morning, but the conditions went against them this afternoon. With so much standing water in the ruts, they were always going to lose time but did well to limit the damage.
“I must also say just how impressed I have been with Teemu and Mikko. I can’t remember anyone taking so little time to secure their first stage win and that just goes to show how much talent and potential he has.
“Teemu has done exactly what I expected him to do this weekend – taking everything on-board and quickly implementing all he has learnt. But I have to admit that he exceeded even my expectations with his performance this afternoon!”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja are in with a chance of another top result at this weekend’s Rally Poland – locked in an intense battle at the head of the field.
As the third car on the road, the Estonians made the most of their road positon over both the first and second pass – posting a string of competitive times regardless of the changing conditions.
Despite his impressive pace, Tänak hinted that we have not yet seen the best of his fearless style – driving with an air of caution and refusing to take all of the available risks.
Currently sitting in second place overall, the championship’s latest winner is just 1.3 seconds adrift of the lead with close to 200 kilometres left to contest.
SS1: 5th (+1.4)
SS2: 4th (+1.6)
SS3: 2nd (+0.9)
SS4: 2nd (+1.3)
SS5: 3rd (+3.2)
SS7: 3rd (+1.2)
SS8: 5th (+3.9)
SS9: 3rd (+3.2)
SS10: 2nd (+0.5)
Ott Tänak (2nd) said:
“It’s been an extremely tricky day today, but the Polish roads are always enjoyable. It’s a really tight battle and I’m sure that tomorrow will be interesting with a lot of new stages. We just need to keep our focus and continue as we have today.
“This was only the first day of competition and with the conditions as extreme as they were there was no need to go flat-out. For sure we need to keep the speed up so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow – when the conditions will hopefully be a little drier so that we can really enjoy these mega stages!”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took advantage of their road position through the opening pass as the early runners benefitted from the worsening conditions.
Using their advantage to full effect, the World Champions were locked in a four-way battle for the lead and posted a string of competitive stage times. Their fortune was however soon to change and Ogier found himself at a disadvantage whilst opening the road once again.
With water-logged ruts being the order of the second pass, the Frenchman suffered dearly – clearing the worst of the water for his rivals behind.
At the mercy of the conditions, time loss was inevitable and Ogier lost contact with the leading battle but remains in a strong fourth place just over half a minute adrift.
SS1: 3rd (+0.9)
SS2: 3rd (+1.4)
SS3: 3rd (+1.3)
SS4: 3rd (+3.0)
SS5: 4th (+4.1)
SS7: 11th (+16.3)
SS8: 10th (+13.5)
SS9: 8th (+8.6)
SS10: 7th (+1.9)
Sébastien Ogier (4th) said:
“It’s been a really tough day and we suffered quite a lot this afternoon. Being the first car on the road there was so much standing water and so many ruts which lost us a lot of time. I really tried to push but there was nothing we could do when faced with these sorts of conditions.
“If it had kept raining all day then we would have had more constant speed – like we did through the morning loop. But that's how it is and tomorrow is another day. We'll keep fighting.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Running further down the field, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt had to contend with worsening conditions through the opening loop and suffered as a result.
With the inconsistent grip levels becoming more and more unpredictable, the pairing were left with little option but to focus on delivering a clean and cautious drive behind the wheel of their DMACK-clad Fiesta WRC.
SS2: 13th (+19.2)
SS3: 10th (+20.9)
SS4: 8th (+20.3)
SS5: 9th (+20.5)
SS7: 12th (+18.0)
SS8: 12th (+16.7)
SS9: 13th (+22.6)
Elfyn Evans (11th) said:
“We didn’t want extreme conditions this weekend, but that’s exactly what we got and we’ve just had to manage as best we can. It’s been really tricky out there and the inconsistent grip levels made it really difficult to judge.
“It was nice to take another stage win this evening, and let’s just wait and see what conditions we’re faced with tomorrow.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
It took Teemu Suninen just six competitive stages in a world rally car to reach the top of the time sheets. With fellow Finn Mikko Markkula calling the notes, the pairing piloted their Ford Fiesta WRC to the fastest time through the second pass of Wieliczki (SS7).
Taking knowledge and experience from every kilometre, Suninen rapidly implemented all he discovered and showed a marked increase in performance from one pass to the next.
Teemu Suninen (7th) said:
“We’ve had a good day and of course it was nice to get our first stage victory this afternoon.
“We know that we can be competitive over some sections and some stages, but the aim is to keep doing that consistently. I’ve had a stage win, but I want more and that means we must continue to work.
“We’ve learnt a lot and were able to improve quite a lot over the second pass. Tomorrow, we just need to continue with the same objective – more good work with no mistakes.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) 56:21.2
2. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.3
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6.6
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +35.1
5. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +39.6
6. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +51.7
7. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:11.0
8. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:28.9
9. Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:37.0
10. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:42.7
11. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:02.3