WRC Neuvlle and Gilsoul fastest in Mikolajki Arena opener in Poland
PZM 73rd RALLY POLAND, June 30- July 3, 2016
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7
For immediate release
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
NEUVILLE AND GILSOUL SET QUICKEST TIME
THROUGH MIKOLAJKI ARENA OPENER IN POLAND
· Ogier fastest through Thursday morning’s Shakedown stage
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul edged into a slender advantage of just two-tenths of a second after the opening 2.5km special stage of the PZM 73rd Rally Poland at the Mikolajki Arena on Thursday evening.
Thousands of spectators gather to witness 63 of the original 67 entrants tackle the competitive opener and Andreas Mikkelsen shadowed the Belgian to the overnight halt in second place with a time of 1min 46.4sec. Estonia’s Ott Tänak was third.
World Champion Sébastien Ogier has the record for the special - a time set last year of 1min 43.9sec - but the Frenchman (who hasn’t won a WRC event for 136 days) slotted into fourth place with a time of 1min 46.6sec.
Polish rivals Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Hubert Ptaszek were the first two drivers to tackle the special stage, much to the delight of the assembled crowd. Kajatanowicz beat his rival by nine-tenths of a second with a time of 1min 51.3sec to take the local bragging rights into the overnight halt.
Welshman Elfyn Evans was the quickest of the first nine WRC 2 drivers who preceded the Priority 1 WRC stars through the opening stage. The series leader was 0.2 seconds faster than Pontus Tidemand, but Finland’s Esapekka Lappi followed Ogier through the stage and beat the Welshman by 0.8 seconds. The Finn was then pipped himself by Karl Kruuda, who reached the overnight halt in 10th place.
Earlier in the day, Ogier was the quickest of the leading drivers through the traditional 3.38km shakedown stage at Lubiewo. The Frenchman clocked a time of 1min 36.3sec to pip runner-up Andreas Mikkelsen by one tenth of a second. Thierry Neuville was third and Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo rounded off the top five.
A spectacular shakedown accident sidelined the Styllex Slovak National Team driver Martin Koci, who had been one of the favourites to win the WRC 3 category in his Citroën DS3 R3T.
Tomorrow (Friday), crews tackle nine special stages, including two runs through Chmielowo, Wieliczki, Swietajno and Stare Juchy, and a second pass through the 2.5km of the popular Mikolajki Arena super special.
PZM 73rd Rally Poland – positions after SS1 unofficial @ 20.15hrs):
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 1min 46.2sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 1min 46.4sec
3. Ott Tänak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1min 46.5sec
4. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 1min 46.6sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 1min 46.9sec
6. Stéphane Lefebvre (FRA)/Gabin Moreau (FRA) Citroën DS3 WRC 1min 47.1sec
7. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 1min 47.3sec
8. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai New i20 WRC 1min 47.7sec
9. Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA)/Simon Scattolin (ITA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1min 48.1sec
10. Karl Kruuda (EST)/Martin Jarveoja (EST) Ford Fiesta R5 1min 48.2sec