WRC Poland gears up for high-speed Mazurian special stage spectacle
PZM 73rd RALLY POLAND, July 1-3, 2016
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7
For immediate release
Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
POLAND GEARS UP FOR HIGH-SPEED
MAZURIAN SPECIAL STAGE SPECTACLE
· Volkswagen’s Ogier holds 64-point lead in series after six rounds
· Young Ella Kremer makes WRC debut at the age of just 17 years
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): What has developed into one of the most exciting FIA World Rally Championship seasons for many years resumes in north-east Poland this weekend.
An impressive 67-car field, consisting of 15 Priority 1 drivers, 26 WRC 2 teams, 12 WRC 3 crews, nine Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy entrants and five privateers tackle the PZM 73rd Rally Poland in the Warmian and Mazurian lake district, centred around the picturesque town of Mikolajki.
Six rounds of the series have come and gone and five different winners have graced the top of the podium. Changes to the starting order on special stages and ongoing car development have dictated that the world’s most prestigious rally championship has been thrown wide open, even if French top seed Sébastien Ogier – winner of the opening two rallies in Monte Carlo and Sweden this year – does have a commanding 64-point advantage in the Drivers’ Championship at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo.
With changeable weather conditions predicted and thousands of spectators expected to line the high-speed special stages, Poland is hoping that it’s fourth WRC event since 2009 will be a fitting backdrop to a scintillating battle between the finest drivers on the planet.
Ogier recently became a father to son Tim and is the firm favourite to win the rally for a third successive year for his Volkswagen Motorsport team, but the competition is getting tougher on every rally. The Frenchman thinks there is less of a disadvantage of running first on the road in Poland and is optimistic that he can amass another haul of points on his push for a fourth world title.
“Compared with Rally Italy, the gravel is totally different and won’t be quite as challenging for our car,” said Ogier. “Even though it’s been four rallies since our last win, we have consistently extended our lead in the championship.”
Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala was a deserved winner of Rally Mexico, Kiwi Hayden Paddon broke his duck in Argentina, Ulster’s Kris Meeke won a second WRC round of his career in Portugal and Belgian Thierry Neuville got off the mark at the recent round on the Italian island of Sardinia.
It sets the stage for a wide open contest over the 21 timed special stage that make up the challenging timetable laid on by the Polish organisers for three-days of action that gets underway in Mikolajki on Thursday evening.
One of the youngest individuals in WRC history will also be taking part for the first time. Armin Kremer’s daughter Ella is just 17-years-old and makes her debut alongside works driver Marijan Griebel in an Opel Adam R2. Ella arrived in Mikolajki straight from taking part in the Rallye Stemweder Berg round of the German Championship with 20-year-old Coralie Schneider in a Citroën Trophy car.
Her father, 47, is a three-time German and one-time Asia-Pacific and European champion and is taking part in WRC 2 with fellow German Pirmin Winklhofer in a Skoda Fabia R5 and currently holds eighth in the series.
Volkswagen’s Latvala also began his WRC career at the age of 17 when he tackled the 2002 Rally of Great Britain in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI and finished an impressive 17th.
Starting young also worked for the late Colin McRae as well: the Scot began riding motorcycles before switching to Scottish car rallies and went on to make his WRC debut behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Nova in the 1987 Sweden Rally at the age of just 19.
Teams are permitted to carry out policed reconnaissance of the special stages on Tuesday and Wednesday, before the traditional shakedown stage on Thursday morning precedes the FIA pre-event press conference and the official ceremonial start in the centre of Mikolajki on Thursday afternoon.
2016 FIA World Rally Championship – positions after round 6:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) 132 pts
2. Dani Sordo (ESP) 68 pts
3. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 67 pts
4. Mads Østberg (NOR) 58 pts
5. Hayden Paddon (NZL) 57 pts
6. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 56 pts
7. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 48 pts
8. Ott Tanak (EST) 34 pts
9. Kris Meeke (GBR) 26 pts
10. Eric Camilli (FRA) 22 pts, etc