Following a dramatic day at Orlen 74th Rally Poland, Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja are still in with a fighting chance of victory – currently holding second place behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Over an action-packed nine stages, all of the front-runners suffered their fair share of misfortune, Tänak included, but the determined Estonian is never one to give up the fight.
With Tänak just 3.1 seconds adrift of a second successive FIA World Rally Championship victory, the stage is set and an epic battle awaits through tomorrow’s final 59.66 kilometers.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been some day out there – and I can’t remember the last time all three of the rally-leading drivers had issues on the same stage!
“For us, Ott lost the rear wing which made things extremely difficult over the closing stages. But he kept it together and the fight is still very much on for tomorrow.
“With just 3.1 seconds between first and second, it’s all to play for and the weather has the potential to make it an extremely exciting and interesting final day. And one thing is for sure – Ott is not likely to give up without a fight!
“Sebastien had a really difficult morning. With two punctures and only one spare he had to manage the situation and fell further adrift of the leading pack. But as I’ve always said, you can never write him off.
“He’s kept his head down and now finds himself in fourth place which would be a fantastic result considering everything he had to contend with this weekend.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja remain in a close fight for victory at Rally Poland. Delivering a determined drive, the battle rages on and the stage is set for a thrilling final-day showdown.
Despite adopting a morning set-up too soft for the drying conditions, it didn’t stop Tänak mounting a charge. Not even an off-road excursion through the first pass of Pozezdrze (SS12) could prevent him from taking the stage win as well as the lead of the rally.
As the fight continued, Neuville sneaked ahead but an eventful second pass of Pozezdrze (SS16) would see Tänak back in control. With Latvala stopped on stage and Neuville suffering a puncture, the lead was in Estonian hands but not without drama – Tänak completing without his rear spoiler.
Having to contest the final three stages without no rear downforce, Tänak delivered a fearless drive to limit the time loss but had to hand the lead back to a resurgent Neuville.
With just 59.66 kilometres left to contest, and the Estonian just 3.1 seconds adrift of the top step, there remains all to play for and Tänak is not one to give up without a fight.
SS11: 3rd (+2.1)
SS13: 3rd (+1.8)
SS14: 3rd (+4.4)
SS15: 2nd (+1.7)
SS16: 4th (+5.5)
SS17: 10th (+8.8)
SS18: 9th (+8.6)
SS19: 6th (+0.8)
Ott Tänak (2nd) said:
“It’s been an interesting day with a lot of things happening so it’s good to still be in a close battle at the top.
“We lost the rear wing this afternoon and that made things really tough. There’s so much aero on these new cars and they make a really big difference – so when you lose the biggest part I can tell you that it is not easy!
“We tried the best we could and made some set-up changes to make it more comfortable to drive. It was still extremely difficult, but Thierry also had a problem and the battle is still on.
“We need to keep fighting as he has also been very strong this weekend. We’re still in the fight and it looks as though we’re in for a really exciting day tomorrow – with the weather making it interesting as well.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Luck has not been on Sébastien Ogier’s side today. Picking up a slow puncture through the first stage of the morning (SS11), the World Champion collected a second puncture just one kilometre into the second speed test (SS12) and lost the front bumper towards the end when caught out by a slippery Tarmac section.
With just one spare and a significant lack of downforce from the missing aero, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were left with no option but to manage the remainder of the loop and fell further adrift of the leading pack.
Regrouping for the second loop, the Frenchman climbed to fourth with all to play for through tomorrow’s closing stages.
SS11: 5th (+5.9)
SS12: 13th (+33.3)
SS13: 12th (+13.4)
SS14: 10th (+17.8)
SS15: 5th (+6.0)
SS16: 2nd (+2.7)
SS17: 6th (+5.7)
SS18: 4th (+3.4)
SS19: 5th (+0.6)
Sébastien Ogier (4th) said:
“Today was not an easy day. We had a lot of things to deal with, but I’m happy to be here at the end of the day and the most important thing is that we are still in with a chance of scoring some good and important points for the championship.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have secured three stage victories this weekend – posting the fastest time through all of the Mikolajki Super Specials.
Unfortunately, yesterday’s rain was not what the Brits had been hoping for and they struggled with a lack of traction in the extreme conditions.
Currently holding ninth place overall however, the Welshman ensures that there are five Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs in the top-ten at the end of the day.
SS11: 13th (+19.4)
SS12: 10th (+17.3)
SS13: 6th (+3.9)
SS14: 13th (+28.4)
SS15: 11th (+16.8)
SS16: 8th (+11.7)
SS17: 4th (+4.6)
SS18: 11th (+10.6)
Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“It’s not been a perfect day, but it’s certainly been better. The drier conditions improved things for us today. The stages were still pretty slippery this morning but I think we found a benefit in some sections this afternoon.
“It’s looking like it’s going to be wet again tomorrow so another difficult day for us out on the stages. We’ll just focus on getting through cleanly and perfecting the notes for the next time.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Continuing his impressive world rally car debut, Teemu Suninen currently holds sixth place behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta WRC.
Improving his performance from one pass to the next, the young Finn has shown impressive pace – guided all the way by experienced co-driver Mikko Markkula.
Keen for further progression as the event enters the closing stages, the Finns will be hoping to bring home a strong result – indicative of their vast talent and potential.
Teemu Suninen (6th) said:
“It’s been another positive day and we’ve learnt a lot, but I need to learn how to improve my driving through the ruts. I’m really enjoying it, but I want to keep improving. I know that we can be fast in certain stages and in certain sections, but I need to learn more so that we can get the consistency and be competitive all weekend.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) 2:10:26.3
2. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.1
3. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +25.5
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:32.0
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +1:43.8
6. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:06.2
7. Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:20.3
8. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:45.8
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:23.1
10. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +3:34.6