Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja delivered another sensational performance on Rally Poland’s super-fast stages – their commitment and speed behind the wheel of the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC was something to applaud as they fought for victory on the final day.
Unfortunately, the Estonians were one of many crews to be caught out by a particularly tricky section through the closing stages – bringing an end to an event in which they deserved so much more.
Their demise did however play into the hands of team mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – the World Champions climbing to third place and securing vital points for their title defence.
Thanks to Ogier’s third place finish, the Fiesta continues its untarnished record of finishing on the podium at every event this year, and the team maintain a 22 point lead at the head of the championship standings.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s disappointing to have missed out on victory through the closing stages, but it’s fair to say that Ott was very unlucky. We saw so many people making mistakes on that particularly tricky section. He just touched the bank with the rear which knocked him into a spin and into the trees. With too much damage, that was the end of the road.
“As I say, it’s disappointing, but we will take the positives away from this weekend – as will Ott. He was setting incredible pace and he can go to Finland confident in his ability to challenge for the win. This will only make him stronger and more determined, that is something I am sure of.
“It’s great to see Sébastien securing third place after what has been a really difficult weekend for him. As I’ve always said, you can never discount him and he has driven extremely well given everything he has had to contend with – taking vital points to maintain his lead at the head of the championship standings.
“It was also good to see Elfyn securing some strong manufacturer points which is very important from the team perspective and keeps us in the lead of the manufacturer standings.
“Finally, we can’t leave Poland without giving credit to Teemu on what has been an absolutely sensational debut in a world rally car. He is a very talented youngster with a lot of potential – a fastest stage time after just six stages is proof of that. Sixth place on his debut is fantastic, and I look forward to seeing what he can do next time out on home soil.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia can never be discounted, and that was certainly the case at this weekend’s Rally Poland – the French pairing piloting the Ford Fiesta WRC to a sixth podium of the year.
Relentless in his point-scoring consistency, Ogier also set the second fastest time through the Power Stage to secure an additional four points and maintains his lead at the head of the drivers’ championship.
Having to contend with his fair share of issues throughout the event, Ogier never lost his focus and has secured a strong haul of points as a result.
SS20: 5th (+17.2)
SS21: 7th (+24.6)
SS22: 11th (+13.4)
SS23: 2nd (+4.9)
Sébastien Ogier (3rd) said:
“This weekend was really tough for us so to come away with a podium is more than we expected.
“Of course I’m sorry for Ott – he had really good speed this weekend and deserved to be on the podium, but that is the way it goes sometimes.
“We had a lot to contend with and it’s fair to say that the good luck hasn’t really been on our side. But we made the most of it and secured some good points which is really important for the championship.
“Now I can enjoy my holiday and come back ready for what is sure to be another exciting battle at Rally Finland.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt may have endured a tough weekend at Rally Poland, but there remain a number of positives.
The Brits were unbeatable on the Mikolajki Super Special – claiming all three fastest stage times through the spectator-friendly speed test.
For the large part however, the extreme conditions hindered the Welshman but he kept his head down and made it cleanly through the stages – getting the better of both Mikkelsen and Hänninen through the closing kilometres to secure eighth place and vital points for M-Sport’s championship campaign.
SS20: 12th (+13.8)
SS21: 11th (+33.9)
SS22: 7th (+8.8)
SS23: 7th (+14.8)
Elfyn Evans (8th) said:
“It’s been a tough weekend. We were hoping for a dry rally but we got the opposite and I think it’s fair to say that we struggled in the extreme conditions.
“We kept our heads down and focused on delivering a clean rally. Three stage wins and eighth place isn’t bad considering, and let’s hope the sun is shining next time out in Finland.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja were denied a second successive victory at this weekend’s Rally Poland, but their fearless speed is something that everyone will remember.
Coming into the final day of competition 3.1 seconds adrift of the lead, Tänak was untouchable through the opening speed test – five seconds faster than anyone else through the treacherous and demanding conditions.
But the excitement of what Tänak called a near-perfect stage would be short-lived. The Estonian was one of a number of drivers to be caught out by a particularly tricky section through the following speed test, and luck was not on his side.
Following the slightest of brushes with the bank, his Ford Fiesta WRC was sent into a spin and impacted with the trees. With too much damage to continue, that was the end of the road for Tänak and Järveoja.
Despite the disappointment, the Estonians will be sure to regroup and come back stronger in Finland – confident in the knowledge that they have the performance to challenge for victory.
Ott Tänak (DNF) said:
“What can I say? Obviously it’s really disappointing to have finished the rally like this and I am just so sorry for the team and all of the fans who came here to support us.
“We were ready for the fight and had a really good run through the first stage this morning. We were pushing hard, but it was a clean run and I would say almost a perfect stage for us.
“Then on the next stage, there was just one really slippery place in the forest. We touched the bank with the rear of the car and that pulled the front into a spin and into the trees. There was too much damage to continue, and that is where our Rally Poland came to an end.
“It was one of those things, and we’ll be back stronger. This one wasn’t to be, but we know that we have the performance and now it’s all focus on Finland.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Teemu Suninen delivered a sensational debut behind the wheel of a world rally car at Rally Poland. The Finn has long been established as one of rallying’s most promising up-and-coming young talents, and he proved that once again this weekend.
With experienced co-driver Mikko Markkula calling the notes, it took Suninen just six competitive stages to secure his first stage victory – a class above the rest through the second pass of Wieliczki (SS7).
As the event continued, the 23-year-old continued to learn with a string of highly competitive times – as well as a number of fastest split times – that saw him as high as fifth place overall.
A spin on the final speed test dropped the young Finn to sixth place, but still a very impressive result on what was his first outing at the sport’s highest level.
Suninen and Markkula now look forward to their next outing with the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC on home soil at Rally Finland.
Teemu Suninen (6th) said:
“It’s disappointing to lose a place on the last stage with a small mistake, but okay, that’s the way it goes sometimes and I think that it has still been a good weekend for us.
“We’ve learnt a lot and it was nice to get a fastest stage time on Friday. I think we’ve shown good speed through certain sections, but there remains work to do to keep that speed up for the whole weekend.
“I want to improve and now I’m looking forward to my home rally in Finland where we can hopefully take another step forward.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) 2:40:46.1
2. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +1:23.9
3. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:20.8
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +2:47.4
5. Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +3:11.8
6. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:16.8
7. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:39.6
8. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:39.1
9. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +4:43.5
10. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:53.7
1. Sébastien Ogier - 160
2. Thierry Neuville - 149
3. Jari-Matti Latvala - 112
4. Ott Tänak - 108
5. Dani Sordo - 82
6. Elfyn Evans - 57
7. Hayden Paddon – 51
8. Craig Breen - 43
9. Juha Hänninen - 30
10. Kris Meeke – 27
1. M-Sport World Rally Team - 259
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 237
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 153
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 117