WRC A rich history for Poland's round of the world rally series
LOTOS 71ST RALLY POLAND, June 26-29, 2014
2014 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7
For immediate release
Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
A RICH HISTORY FOR POLAND’S ROUND OF THE WORLD RALLY SERIES
· Rally Poland WRC action gets underway with three stages on Thursday
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): LOTOS 71st Rally Poland makes its return to the FIA World Rally Championship this week after an absence of five years, but the event has a rich history and is one of the oldest in the history of world motor sport.
In fact, Rally Poland is the second oldest rally in the world - only the famous Monte Carlo Rally is older. There are many interesting facts from 93 years of history.
In the early years of cars, rallying looked quite different from today. Outright speed and stage times were not only important. In 1924, for example, the Jury of the rally acknowledged other achievements and there were awards for skilful and persistent driving, as well as penalties for dangerous driving.
The route of the 1939 Rally Poland was 4,358 km long. This was the last edition before World War II and rally crews visited almost every region of Poland. In 1921, on the other hand, the route of Rally Poland was the shortest in history. Rally crews covered only 600 kilometres and there were just six crews on the entry list – the least in the event’s history.
The record entry for Rally Poland was in 1972. One hundred and thirty crews decided to compete in the most famous Polish rally and, three years later, there were 129 competitors at the start.
Until 2014, Rally Poland was twice a round of the FIA World Rally Championship (1973 and 2009) and crews fought for European Championship points during the Polish Rally on 48 occasions.
Five world champions competed in Rally Poland: Stig Blomqvist, Walter Rohrl, Petter Solberg, Sébastien Loeb and the current World Champion Sébastien Ogier.
Before 1989, local drivers often competed in Rally Poland using cars made in Poland. The highest place earned in a Polish-built rally car was third overall. This was achieved three times: in 1973 and 1976 (Polish Fiat 125p) and in 1986 (FSO Polonez).
Rally Poland has usually been organised in June – as many as 28 times. Twenty-four editions were held in July, six times the rally was scheduled in August and it ran in September on four occasions. Three times Rally Poland was staged in July and August and rivalry took place in June and July once.
In 2005, the Polish Rally was moved to the Masurian lakes region and took its base in Mikolajki, but it was not the first time that rally crews had visited this city. The rally route went through Mikołajki twice before – in 1955 and 1957.
There is a similar story with the Lithuanian city of Druskininkai, where remote service is planned on the second day of the 2014 rally. Before WW2, the Rally Poland route ran through this charming Lithuanian resort.
Since 1990, Rally Poland was won on just one occasion by the driver of a two-wheel drive car. In 2004, on the tarmac stages in around Klodzko, Italian Luca Pedersoli won the rally in a Peugeot 306 Maxi.
The only driver to win Rally Poland three times in a row was Antonio Zanini. The Spaniard was victorious in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
Most victories under a driver’s belt belong to Polish driver Sobieslaw Zasada. The Dabrowa Gornicza pilot won four times behind the wheel of cars such as the Steyr - Puch 650TR, Porsche 911 and 912 and the BMW 2002 tii.
Since four-wheel drive cars have taken charge in Rally Poland, most victories were won by Fords and Subarus. Since 1989, Subaru and Ford were both victorious six times apiece. Interestingly, Kajetan Kajetanowicz won the rally in a car of both brands. In 2010 and 2011, Kajetanowicz won in a Subaru Impreza, and, last year, he was the fastest in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Michal Solowow never won the Polish Rally, even though he took a place on the podium five times.
The most frequent foreign competitor in Rally Poland history is Attila Ferjancz. The Hungarian driver competed in this event 14 times.
In 1977, the Polish Rally attracted 73 foreign crews.
Belgian drivers dominated the most prestigious Polish rally in the late 1980s and 1990s. Three victories fell to Robert Droogmans (1989, 1990 and 1993), Patrick Snijers won twice (1994, 1997) and Marc Soulet did it once (1988).
The margin of 10.3 seconds was the smallest gap separated the winner from the runner-up in 2011. Kajetan Kajetanowicz was a little faster than Michal Solowow. On 230km of gravel special stages, Kajetanowicz’s average speed was higher than Solowow’s by just 0.2 km/h!
The famous Finnish athlete Rauno Aaltonen won Rally Poland as a driver and as a co-driver. In 1961, he was victorious in the right seat and he won behind the wheel in 1965.
In the co-driver classification, Jarosław Baran has the moat victories under his belt. Baran won Rally Poland four times – the experienced Polish co-driver won with Janusz Kulig (2002) and Kajetan Kajetanowicz (2010, 2011, 2013).
Switching to the 2014 LOTOS 71st Rally Poland, tomorrow (Thursday), several of the top WRC and WRC 2 drivers will attend the official FIA pre-event press conference in the rally media centre before taking their places at the ceremonial start in Mikolajki main square from 15.30hrs.
In a hectic start to Poland’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship, 2014 Rally Poland action then gets underway with a 14.54km Milki special stage from 16.40hrs. Teams then tackle a second 17.24km Kruklanki special at 17.30hrs and a shorter 2.5km super special stage at Mikolajki Arena from 20.05hrs before returning to Parc Ferme for the overnight halt.
There will be a total of 34.28 competitive kilometres in a day’s route of 166.92km before the rally resumes on Friday morning with a history-making first WRC visit to neighbouring Lithuania for four timed special stages.