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WRC Relentless Ogier sees off Mikkelsen to confirm second Rally Poland win

LOTOS 72nd RALLY POLAND, July 2-5, 2015

2015 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7

For immediate release
Sunday, July 5th, 2015

RELENTLESS OGIER SEES OFF MIKKELSEN TO CONFIRM SECOND RALLY POLAND WIN

MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier maintained his composure and produced a stunning final morning’s performance to see off a fierce challenge from Andreas Mikkelsen and confirm an 11.9-second victory in LOTOS 72nd Rally Poland.

Leading by 5.6-seconds at the overnight halt, the Frenchman and navigator Julien Ingrassia left their rivals trailing in their wake through the last two stages to confirm a fifth victory of the season. A second successive Polish triumph marked the double World Champion’s 29th career WRC victory and he closed to within one win of Marcus Grönholm (30), who lies second in the all-time ‘Hall of Fame’.

“I have had so many great wins, but no-one wanted to help me on this one,” said a delighted Ogier, who won eight of the 18 stages. “I was first on the road for 90% of the rally and I have 28 points again. We had to push from the first metre to the last one and I enjoyed that. Now I have a small break and I go on the beach in the Bahamas...”

Mikkelsen and Ole Floene proved their future potential and sealed a deserved second place in a second Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The Norwegian won just two stages, but he kept the pressure on the sport’s leading star for three days and edges ever closer to a maiden WRC victory.

Ott Tanak provided the M-Sport World Rally Team with a well deserved and much-needed podium finish. The talented young Estonian won six special stages and defended a 1.5-second overnight lead over Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala to close out the final podium place. An under-pressure Latvala crashed heavily on the final stage, hit a tree and stopped on the road section after the special with radiator and front end damage. He somehow managed to reach the final control but incurred a 40-second penalty for being four minutes late and slipped to fifth.

“I pushed like crazy and I am so happy,“ said Tanak. “M-Sport have done a great job. Thanks to Malcolm (Wilson) for giving me this second opportunity. This is a proper podium. The last one was because everyone retired.”

Hayden Paddon was the quickest and most consistent of the four Hyundai Shell World Rally Team drivers and, when Belgian Thierry Neuville rolled on the first stage of the morning and damaged his i20 WRC, the challenge for the Kiwi’s fifth place had gone. Paddon climbed to fourth as a result of Latvala’s time penalty and Neuville regrouped to finish sixth.

Kris Meeke’s confidence had been shattered by a multiple roll on the shakedown stage and the Ulsterman admitted that his “rally was over before it had even started”, but the Rally Argentina winner dug deep to grind out a seventh-placed finish for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally when local hero Robert Kubica punctured on the Power Stage and slipped to eighth.

Citroën team-mate Mads Østberg complained about a lack of pre-event testing and struggled to find his usual pace on this high-speed seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Norwegian crossed the flying finish of the last stage in ninth. Spaniard Dani Sordo was unable to find his usual pace either and rounded off the top 10.

Flying Finn Esapekka Lappi took a comfortable WRC 2 advantage into the final two stages and the Skoda Fabia R5 driver found a useful pace through the Baranowo stage to confirm victory and 12th overall. Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand finished second, 56.1 seconds behind the Finn, and Estonia’s Karl Kruuda was third after a puncture cost him time on Friday.

“I cannot be more satisfied,” said Lappi. “We only had to push on Friday and the rest of the rally was about controlling. We had good pace notes and the car worked perfectly.”

Simone Tempestini collected a maximum haul of WRC 3 points at the wheel of a Citroën DS3 R3T. The Italian hit the front on Saturday afternoon when Welshman Osian Pryce lost the lead with a niggling engine misfire and he cruised to the finish with a winning margin of 47.9 seconds.

Pryce held off the advances of Finland’s Henri Haapamaki to finish second with his car still plagued by a minor engine issue. “This was 20 times better for me than Portugal and we proved we had the pace,” said Pryce. “Now we need to see what the future holds.”

Sunday – as it happened

Only two runs through the 14.60km of the Baranowo stage stood between Ogier and his 29th WRC victory. The Frenchman began the day with a 5.6-second lead over Mikkelsen, while a fierce battle waged between Tanak and Latvala for third; the former held a 1.5-second advantage heading into the opening twisty and demanding special that would also count as the event’s Power Stage three hours later.

Massive crowds had flocked to the stages in searing heat on Saturday and the sheer number had forced the cancellation of the second Mazury stage. There was an obvious concern that this could occur again and Volkswagen’s team director Jost Capito pleaded publicly at the end of Saturday’s post-leg press conference that all fans adhered to the sensible places from where to watch what promised to be a thrilling morning’s battle at the top of the field.

Baranowo started on schedule and Elfyn Evans, who was running under Rally 2 after repairs had been made to his Ford’s water pump, set the target time of 7min 12.9sec. Meeke managed to steal 4.8 seconds off Kubica and closed to within 5.4 seconds of the Pole’s seventh place, but Neuville survived a roll on the stage and lost his slim chance of catching Paddon. “I took a curve and I rolled the car,” said the Belgian. “Something tripped me up, but we were lucky and got away with it.”

Latvala admitted that he made a couple of small mistakes and was pushing a little too hard but the Finn carded a time of 7min 01.sec. It was sufficient to beat Tanak by four-tenths of a second, but the Estonian would take a 1.1-second hold on third place into the Power Stage. “I will make some changes to the notes and can be even quicker,” said a determined Tanak. “Whatever happens now, we have made some big improvements and have had a good rally.”

Mikkelsen was on the ragged edge to set a stunning time of 6min 58.8sec, but the contest was all but settled in the World Champion’s favour when Ogier stopped the clocks with a staggering time of 6min 56.3sec. He headed to the Power Stage with a lead of 8.1 seconds. “I knew I had to do my job like always,” admitted the Frenchman. “I don’t need the points on the Power Stage, but it is a nice stage. I just need a clean drive like this morning.”

Evans was the first into the cauldron of the final timed test. Temperatures were into the high twenties Centigrade and the special attracted a massive number of enthusiastic spectators. The Welshman shaved 11 seconds off his morning’s time to post the target of 7min 01.4sec. Østberg was the first driver to break the seven-minute barrier with a time of 6min 59.2sec, although Meeke was 1.7 seconds quicker to take the early lead.

Kubica sustained a rear puncture that cost him a chance to push for the Power Stage win and he lost 15 seconds, which also pushed him behind Meeke and into eighth. But the drama was happening behind on the stage; Latvala smashed his Polo into a tree, after going too fast into a corner, and damaged the radiator and the front of the Volkswagen. He needed to reach service before the car overheated, but it gifted Tanak third place in the M-Sport Ford.

Mikkelsen was not able to get inside the time of 6min 52.1sec set by Tanak, but the Norwegian admitted that the runner-up spot was the best result of his WRC career. But there was no stopping Ogier and the Frenchman crossed the line one-tenth of a second in front of Tanak to claim the three bonus points for winning the Power Stage and he sealed outright victory by 11.9 seconds in what developed into a thrilling finale to a nail-biting rally.

LOTOS 72nd Rally Poland - positions after SS19:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 26min 11.5sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ole Floene (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 26min 23.4sec
3. Ott Tanak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 26min 34.5sec
4. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 27min 26.1sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 27min 36.2sec
6. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 27min 56.0sec
7. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 28min 09.2sec
8. Robert Kubica (POL)/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 28min 19.8sec
9. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Jonas Andersson (SWE) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 28min 29.7sec
10. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 28min 59.9sec
11. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 30min 54.8sec
12. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Skoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2) 2hr 32min 02.6sec

Rally leaders
SS1 Sébastien Ogier
SS2 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3-6 Ott Tanak
SS7-19 Sébastien Ogier

Stage winners
SS1 Sébastien Ogier
SS2 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3 Ott Tanak
SS4 Ott Tanak
SS5 Ott Tanak
SS6 Sébastien Ogier
SS7 Sébastien Ogier
SS8 Jari-Matti Latvala
SS9 Martin Prokop
SS10 Sebastien Ogier
SS11 Ott Tanak
SS12 Ott Tanak
SS13 Sébastien Ogier
SS14 cancelled
SS15 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS16 Ott Tanak
SS17 Sébastien Ogier
SS18 Sébastien Ogier
SS19 Sébastien Ogier

Ends

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Date issued: 05/07/2015

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