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WRC Volkswagen's Mikkelsen claims dramatic late win in Rally Poland

 

PZM 73rd RALLY POLAND, June 30- July 3, 2016
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7

For immediate release
Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

VOLKSWAGEN’S MIKKELSEN CLAIMS DRAMATIC WIN IN RALLY POLAND


· DMACK’S Tänak and Hyundai’s Paddon finish second and third overall
· Suninen takes last gasp win in WRC 2; Tempestini in charge of WRC 3


MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Andreas Mikkelsen snatched victory in one of the most dramatic finishes to a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, when he and fellow Norwegian Anders Jaeger won PZM 73rd Rally Poland on Sunday.

The Volkswagen Polo R WRC driver confirmed his second ever WRC win and a first for co-driver Jaeger with the fifth quickest time on the final Power Stage. But the damage had been done on the previous special when long-time leader Ott Tänak of the DMACK World Rally Team sustained a puncture, lost over 40 seconds and slipped to second overall.

The flat tyre deprived the heartbroken Estonian of a maiden WRC win and Ford and M-Sport of taking their first victory on a round of the championship since the 2012 Wales Rally GB.

“We pushed all weekend so hard,” said a delighted Mikkelsen. “We had to give everything. We knew it would be difficult. It was like a war in there on the previous stage. We were the lucky ones. I told Ott before the last stage I felt so sorry for him. That is the way rallying is.”

Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon stayed out of trouble over Sunday’s four treacherous stages to seal the final place on the podium for the Korean manufacturer. Belgian Thierry Neuville was a mere 0.8 seconds behind in fourth in a second i20 WRC. “I tried to be smooth and clean and bring it home,” said Neuville. “I lost the rally because the pace notes on the first part were too slow and the puncture early on.”

Jari-Mati Latvala held off a fierce charge from World Champion and team-mate Sébastien Ogier to confirm fourth place, although the treacherous final morning’s road conditions surprised even Ogier.

“I am so happy to be here,” said Ogier, who missed out on a podium finish for the first time this year. “It was just about surviving to be honest. It’s been a tough weekend for us and we are happy to be going away with some points.”

Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre spun three stages from the finish, badly damaged the rear suspension of his PH-Sport run Citroën DS3 and gifted seventh place to Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team colleague Craig Breen. Lefebvre climbed back to 12th at the finish.

Frenchman Eric Camilli was locked in a fascinating three-way battle with team-mate Mads Østberg and Hyundai’s Dani Sordo for eighth position. Sordo closed in on the M-Sport duo through the morning’s opener, but a collision with some hay bails in Sady pushed him out of contention and he stopped in the next stage. Camilli swiped his car after the flying finish of SS20 and the resultant damage forced him to slow though the final Power Stage and the time loss handed eighth place to his Norwegian colleague.

WRC 2 developed into a three-horse race over the closing four stages between the Finnish duo of Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen and Welshman Elfyn Evans. The latter managed to slither into second with the quickest time on the muddy opening stage, but Lappi maintained his composure until a flat tyre destroyed his dream of taking a second successive Polish WRC 2 win in SS20 and gifted the victory to Suninen. Evans also took advantage of Lappi’s misfortune to move back into second.

“Now is the time to smile,” said Suninen. “We have pushed on the limit all weekend. Now we are the winner at the finish.”

Citroën DS3 R3Ts dominated in WRC 3: Italy’s Simone Tempestini won the category and was classified as top Junior by the margin of 3min 22.sec from Frenchman Terry Folb. Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby was third.

Tempestini said: “It was a really long rally and I enjoy a lot. I like these kind of stages. Today was difficult conditions. Baranowo stage was incredible. Now we go to Finland with good confidence.”

Ulster’s Jon Armstrong took full advantage of Osian Pryce losing over a minute after hitting a rock and losing a wheel in the first stage of the morning to hit the front in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy standings. Armstrong held on to take the win by the margin of 53.6 seconds, with Portugal’s Bernardo Sousa moving in front of Brit Gus Greensmith to seal third.

Sunday – as it happened

Fifty-six of the original 63 starters were granted times to begin the final loop of four special stages and the unenviable job of road opening was given to Valeriy Gorban. Heavy overnight rain had saturated the tracks in the Mikolajki area and further incessant downpours were forecast throughout the morning.

Rally leader Tänak was running 15th on the road and headed towards the first run through Baranowo trying to defend his 21.3 second lead. The stage surface was very muddy and it was raining heavily when Gorban posted the target time of 11min 25.8sec. A flying Sordo used a favourable starting position to close on Østberg and Camilli in the fight for ninth place with a time of 11min 00.6sec.

Ogier and Latvala were separated by just 0.2 seconds in the fight for fifth overall, but attention turned to Mikkelsen’s frantic attempt to overturn Tänak’s outright lead. The Norwegian clocked the fastest time of 10min 43.5sec and reduced the Estonian’s advantage to 18.9 seconds heading to the Sady special.

Lappi extended his WRC 2 lead over Suninen to 18.3 seconds, but a flying Evans set the quickest time and overtook Suninen in the overall standings to take second in WRC 2 by just 0.4 seconds.

The slippery Sady stage was televised live and a collision with some hay bales damaged Sordo’s Hyundai and he arrived at the stage finish with coolant fluid leaking from his i20 WRC. Østberg took advantage and gained 2.2 seconds on the Spaniard to maintain 10th position.

The stage was stopped for a few minutes while the errant hay bales were moved off the track, but the delay did Lefebvre no favours at all and the Frenchman spun after the restart and damaged a rear wheel on his DS3. He managed to crawl to the stage finish with a battered car, but was overtaken by Ogier on the stage and slipped from seventh to 15th overall.

Ogier slowed under a yellow flag and dropped time as a result, as Latvala set the fastest time and Mikkelsen shaved just 0.3 seconds off Tänak’s lead. Ogier was awarded the quickest time soon afterwards by race officials and headed to the break just 2.4 seconds behind Latvala.

Lappi maintained his WRC 2 lead by getting the better of Suninen, who moved back in front of Evans heading into a repeat of the two special stages.

Sordo and Lefebvre were able to continue on to the repeat run through Baranowo with two-minute intervals used to claw back a little time. But the Spaniard stopped for a short time after three kilometres and was overtaken by Østberg, as Gorban’s Mini also ground to a halt after 11.4km.

Sordo ground to a halt further into the stage, as Ogier put in a punishing time of 11min 23.3sec in his quest to overtake Latvala and snatch fifth overall. But the Finn beat the World Champion by 4.8 seconds and headed to the Power Stage with a lead of 7.2 seconds. He trailed Neuville by just 5.3 seconds after the Belgian punctured and complained of a misting windscreen.

Mikkelsen compared the special with the worst he had ever driven in terms of surface conditions, but he was the new rally leader after a devastated Tänak lost over 40 seconds with a puncture and stormed away from the flying finish 16.5 seconds behind the Norwegian. “It’s a good job Volkswagen make a strong car because we needed it. We took so many hits,” said Mikkelsen, before realising he was the new rally leader.

In a dramatic finale to the rally, the WRC 2 lead also turned upside down and Suninen inherited the lead after Lappi punctured and had to stop and change the wheel. “We pick up a puncture, but it was not possible so we needed to change it,” said a dejected Lappi.

Evans also punctured and maintained second place, but Australia’s Scott Pedder and Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek ground to a halt before the stage was halted for subsequent entrants on safety grounds.

Only the televised Power Stage stood between Mikkelsen and a second WRC win. Ogier attacked in a bid to pick up the three bonus points and set a time of 4min 47.0sec. It was not enough to wrest fifth place from Latvala, but the Frenchman beat the Finn by seven-tenths of a second and Neuville by 1.5 seconds to claim the bonuses.

A devastated Tänak held on to second overall with a slow time and Mikkelsen coasted to the finish with the fifth quickest time to secure victory by the margin of 26.2 seconds after adverse weather conditions gave Rally Poland a thrilling finale. Mikkelsen was the sixth different winner of a WRC rally in the last six events.

PZM 73rd Rally Poland – positions after SS21:
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 37min 34.4sec
2. Ott Tänak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 38min 00.6sec
3. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 2hr 38min 02.9sec
4. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai New i20 WRC 2hr 38min 03.7sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 38min 08.2sec
6. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 38min 14.7sec
7. Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 39min 35.8sec
8. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 40min 39.0sec
9. Eric Camilli (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 42min 57.5sec
10. Teemu Suninen(FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Skoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2) 2hr 43min 27.7sec

Rally leaders
SS1 Thierry Neuville
SS2 Ott Tänak
SS3-7 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS8-19 Ott Tänak
SS20-21 Andreas Mikkelsen

Stage winners
SS1 Thierry Neuville
SS2 Hayden Paddon
SS3 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS4 Ott Tänak
SS5 Hayden Paddon
SS6 Ott Tänak
SS7 Ott Tänak
SS8 Ott Tänak
SS9 Hayden Paddon
SS10 Ott Tänak/ Sébastien Ogier
SS11 Ott Tänak
SS12 Ott Tänak
SS13 Ott Tänak
SS14 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS15 Stéphane Lefebvre
SS16 Jari-Matti Latvala
SS17 Ott Tänak
SS18 Andreas Mikkelsen
SS19 *Sébastien Ogier
SS20 Jari-Matti Latvala
SS21 Sébastien Ogier
* stage time awarded by rally officials
Ends

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Date issued: 03/07/2016

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