WRC DMACK's Ott Tanak remains on course for Rally Poland glory
PZM 73rd RALLY POLAND, June 30- July 3, 2016
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7
For immediate release
Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
DMACK’S OTT TÄNAK REMAINS ON COURSE FOR RALLY POLAND GLORY
· Mikkelsen and Paddon take the podium fight into the final day
· Lappi moves ahead in WRC 2; Tempestini stays clear in WRC 3
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Ford and M-Sport remain firmly on course to secure a first FIA World Rally Championship victory for nearly four years after 17 special stages of PZM 73rd Rally Poland, round seven of the 2016 series.
Estonian driver Ott Tänak will take a lead of 21.3 seconds into Sunday’s final four special stages after driving his DMACK World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC in a professional and determined manner over Saturday’s seven timed tests.
Success would mark Ott’s first ever WRC win and carry on a remarkable sequence of six different drivers winning the last six rounds of the series. Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala gave Ford and M-Sport their last win at the 2012 Wales Rally GB.
“I managed to push hard and gain time when I could,” said Tänak, who won the morning’s loop of three stages and then consolidated his lead during the afternoon. “A couple of places I went wide and lost a few seconds, but I have managed to lead now for two days and there is no reason to suggest that I cannot do it again tomorrow. We are in a good shape.”
Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen remains the Estonian’s closest challenger, although the Norwegian will start the final day just 6.5 seconds ahead of Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon, both of whom have taken one WRC victory apiece in the last 12 months.
World Champion Sébastien Ogier began a frustrating day of stage surface cleaning in fourth overall and first on the road, but the road position made it impossible for the Frenchman to attack and he slipped behind Belgium’s Thierry Neuville into fifth and then into the clutches of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
“This was one of the toughest days of my career,” admitted a despondent Ogier. “I really tried and I even thought I was trying too hard. I could do nothing more.”
Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen were tied to the tenth of a second during the morning, but a first ever fastest WRC time enabled the Frenchman to edge clear of his Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team rival and hold seventh at the end of an excellent day for both rookie drivers.
Frenchman Eric Camilli is under instructions from M-Sport to bring his Ford Fiesta to the finish and the Polish debutant holds ninth place, with team-mate Mads Østberg breathing down his neck and rounding off the top 10 and Hyundai’s Dani Sordo holding 11th.
WRC 2 developed into a battleground between two Finns and a pair of Skodas. Esapekka Lappi began to chisel into Teemu Suninen’s advantage as the day progressed and reached the night halt with a lead of 10.8 seconds. Welshman Elfyn Evans set several quick times, but a 15th stage puncture pushed him back again and the series leader is third.
Citroen DS3 R3Ts continue to dominate in WRC 3 after 16 stages: Italy’s Simone Tempestini held a massive advantage of 3min 26.8sec over Frenchman Terry Folb after Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby broke a drive shaft on SS15 and lost second place.
“The stages are very beautiful, but they were rough in places and that is not so easy with our car, so I had to slow down in some places and make sure we did not make any damage,” said Tempestini.
Osian Pryce.was the pacesetter in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy after 16 special stages. The Welshman held a 42.3-second advantage over Ulster’s Jon Armstrong. Gus Greensmith and Bernardo Sousa were third and fourth.
Saturday – as it happened
Overnight leader Tänak started the 11th Goldap stage from eighth on the road and defending a 4.2-second advantage over Mikkelsen. Ogier was handed road-cleaning duties again and set the target time of 7min 39.5sec on the stage near the border with the neighbouring Russian province of Kaliningrad, but he ceded a place in the overall standings to Neuville.
The leading drivers admitted that the surface was still cleaning after several cars and it played into Tänak’s hands perfectly. A stunning time by the Estonian catapulted him into a lead of 10.9 seconds. Breen drew exactly level with team-mate Lefebvre with the fifth quickest time. “I am doing my own thing,” admitted Breen. “I’m paddling my own canoe.”
Lappi reduced Suninen’s lead in WRC 2 to just 2.4 seconds, although Evans closed to within 17.7 seconds of the leading Finn with the fastest time.
The Stanczyki stage, situated very close to the Russian enclave, was next on the agenda and Ogier resumed stage-cleaning duties with a time of 13min 59.7sec.”It was a disaster for me, it’s a joke now,” moaned the Frenchman.
Mikkelsen admitted to driving at his maximum and stormed through in a time of 13min 42.8sec to extend his advantage over Paddon by 2.6 seconds, although Tänak moved further in front with his seventh fastest time of the weekend. Latvala closed to within 3.6 seconds of Ogier’s hold on fifth place, while Neuville maintained fourth, despite a broken gear lever.
Suninen found a better rhythm but Lappi managed to reduce the Finn’s WRC 2 lead still further to just 1.8 seconds, even though Evans was quicker than both the Skodas in his Ford Fiesta.
The 21.02km of the Babki stage followed soon afterwards and a disgruntled Ogier carded 10min 27.1sec after visiting two ditches during his on-the-limit attack through the sandy special. He ceded 5.6 seconds to Mikkelsen and lost fifth place to a resurgent Latvala, although Tänak headed to remote tyre fitting with another stunning fastest time and a rally lead of 18 seconds. Lefebvre was second quickest and moved 11.9 seconds in front of DS3 rival Breen.
Suninen reached the lunch break with a WRC 2 lead of just 1.9 seconds after beating Lappi by a mere one tenth. Evans continued his run of morning form to beat his two rivals and narrow his own deficit to 14.8 seconds. Nicolas Fuchs rolled and lost two and a half minutes, but Marius Aasen was not so fortunate and retired after an accident.
Teams revisited Stanczyki after the lunch break and Ogier shaved 27 seconds off his morning’s time on a cleaner surface. Mikkelsen set the fastest time and reduced Tänak’s lead to 16.5 seconds and gained a tenth on third-placed Paddon. Henning Solberg punctured, Breen closed to within 5.2 seconds of Lefebvre and Lappi gained the WRC 2 lead for the first time by getting the better of Suninen.
Ogier took 19 seconds off his first run through Babki, but Mikkelsen was the man on form again and the second quickest time, behind the impressive stage-winning Lefebvre, edged the Norwegian to within 15.1 seconds of a more cautious Tänak.
Suninen got caught in Valeriy Gorban’s dust when the Ukrainian had a puncture and it enabled Lappi to extend his WRC 2 lead to 3.7 seconds. Evans clipped a large rock on the final corner, punctured and dropped a handful of seconds to his rivals.
The pressure was on the leaders not to make a mistake in Goldap 2. Mikkelsen overshot a junction, had to reverse and it cost him 4.4 seconds to Tänak, as Paddon reduced the Norwegian’s hold on second place to 5.1 seconds. Latvala set his first fastest time of the event in a time of 7min 29.5sec and Lappi extended his WRC 2 lead to 9.1 seconds before the final super special stage.
Tomorrow (Sunday) teams tackle the remaining four stages, comprising two runs through the Baranowo and Sady specials of 21.25km and 8.55km, respectively. The second pass through Sady will also act as the event’s Power Stage with additional points available for the fastest three drivers.
A cold weather front is forecast to hit the region overnight and heavy rain and much cooler temperatures are predicted to put a spanner in the works for the leading drivers over the final morning of what promises to be a thrilling finale to PZM 73rd Rally Poland.
PZM 73rd Rally Poland – positions after SS17 (unofficial):
1. Ott Tänak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 05min 37.2sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 05min 58.5sec
3. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 2hr 06min 05.0sec
4. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 2hr 06min 20.7sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 06min 41.7sec
6. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 06min 45.3sec
7. Stéphane Lefebvre (FRA)/Gabin Moreau (FRA) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 06min 58.4sec
8. Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 07min 10.4sec
9. Eric Camilli (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 07min 47.8sec
10. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 07min 52.1sec
11. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai New i20 WRC 2hr 08min 04.8sec