28 June 2014
Rally Poland: Ogier pulls out a cushion
Sebastien Ogier completes SS15 with a 19-second margin over Andreas Mikkelsen; Juho Hanninen holds third with Thierry Neuville fourth and Mikko Hirvonen fifth; Robert Kubica is sixth; Mads Ostberg and Elfyn Evans both retired in SS14...
Volkswagen WRC driver Sebastien Ogier has built a 19-second lead on Rally Poland following Saturday's opening loop.
Ogier began the third day just 0.9 seconds up on team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen after a great battle on Thursday and Friday. However, this morning Ogier pulled away and while he conceded 0.4 seconds initially in SS11, he was quicker than the Norwegian in the following tests - winning three of them - and he now heads into the mid-day service with a comfortable margin.
“We managed to take a bit of an advantage. That last one was not an easy stage [though]. It was not a full attack. There is a long way to go [still] and the weather might be quite bad. Nothing is done yet,” Ogier warned.
Mikkelsen meanwhile, after closing up in SS11, lost 10 seconds in SS12 when he made a mistake and then couldn't find reverse. The Volkswagen Motorsport II man then lost his rhythm a bit after that, although he did provisionally take the lead in SS14 – but only because Ogier was held up after Mads Ostberg hit a rock and rolled his Citroen DS3 WRC car. Ogier was later awarded a notional time – along with a few other drivers – and that put the 2013 World Rally Champion back on top.
“I am still trying to push Sébastien,” Mikkelsen insisted, “but it is not easy.”
Ostberg's was one of a number of drivers to hit trouble in SS14, with Elfyn Evans also sidelined after he clipped a rock and damaged a lower front suspension link. The Welshman was unable to fix his M-Sport WRT Fiesta RS WRC, but is expected to re-start under the Rally 2 rules on Sunday.
Henning Solberg, Robert Kubica and Kris Meeke had issues too – all suffering punctures, something that cost the latter over 2 minutes, while Jari-Matti Latvala damaged the front suspension on his Volkswagen Polo R WRC after hitting a stone. That sent the damper through the bonnet, and while he strapped it in place for SS15, the 'fix' failed and he lost over 1.5 minutes, dropping him from P3 to P7.
“We hit something on the previous stage, we tried to fix it, but unfortunately it hasn't lasted,” Latvala lamented.
As a result of all that, Juho Hanninen is now on course for the final podium place for Hyundai, 1 minute 33.3 seconds off Mikkelsen and 15.7 seconds up on team-mate Thierry Neuville in fourth.
M-Sport WRT man Mikko Hirvonen rounds out the top five, just 1.7 seconds back, with Kubica sixth – even though he had to nurse his car through SS15 after picking up a puncture in the previous test. The Pole opted for just one spare tyre this morning and after suffering a puncture early on, was then unable to change it after he picked up a second in SS14.
After Latvala in P7, Hayden Paddon, Henning and Martin Prokop round out the provisional points scorers'. Meeke is now just outside the top ten – 11.1 seconds off Prokop.
In WRC2, Ott Tanak continues to dominate. He won four of the five stages and with his team-mate and closest rival Jari Ketomaa losing over 35 seconds in SS14 with an off, his overnight lead has gone from 14.9 seconds to over a minute. Martin Kangur is third.
Rally Poland now continues with repeat runs through four of today's five earlier tests. The leg is then concluded with a third run through the 2.50 km Mikolajki Arena super special.
SS16, the 6.75 km Chmielewo 2 test, is due to start at 15.50 hours local time [14.50 hours UK time].
Rally Poland: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hour 31m 00.2s M
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 19.0s M
3. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +01m 52.3s M
4. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +02m 08.0s M
5. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 09.7s M
6. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 39.8s M
7. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +02m 53.6s M
8. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +03m 04.2s M
9. Henning Solberg Adapta Motorsport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 32.4s
10. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 43.4s M
11. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +03m 54.5s M
12. Ott Tanak Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +04m 41.8s WRC2
13. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +05m 44.8s WRC2
14. Martin Kangur Ford Fiesta S2000 +07m 18.9s WRC2
15. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +07m 50.7s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):
1. Ott Tanak Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 1hr 35m 42.0s WRC2
2. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 03.0s WRC2
3. Martin Kangur Ford Fiesta S2000 +02m 37.1s WRC2
SS5/6. Michal Solowow Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
SS9. Karl Kruuda Peugeot 208 T16 Rolled WRC2
SS13. Krzysztof Holowczyc Lotto Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Accident
SS14. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Went off M
SS14. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Suspension damage M
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial
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