Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier set the pace on Thursday morning in the shakedown for Rally Poland, while Kris Meeke crashed.
Meeke, who is celebrating his 36th birthday today and who ended up sixth quickest, went off the road near the start of the 3.30km test on his fifth pass, rolling his Citroen DS 3 WRC car multiple times. Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle both escaped unharmed, but it remains to be seen whether or not the accident will stop them competing this weekend.
“I was just 100 metres into the stage on a flat-left, fourth gear corner,” Meeke told the official WRC site. “I was on the line and the car launched into the air and rolled.
“I had been completely flat through that corner every time before. The ruts were getting deeper but it caught me by surprise and the car went over and landed on the bonnet.”
“We'll find out how the car is when we get it back [to service now],” he added, “but it's never pretty when it rolls six or seven times. The FIA will take a look, but if the roll cage is bent we're going nowhere.”
Meanwhile, at the front, Ogier set the top time – a 1m 39.1s – on his third and final run. It left him 0.5s up on local star Robert Kubica, and VW team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen all tied for second.
"The shakedown went well. The route was superfast from the word go, with hardly any corners. It will be a similar story on the weekend too," Ogier said. "The fans can look forward to some extremely fast stages, particularly on Friday. It might be even faster than last year. I like fast and flowing routes like the one in Poland. Furthermore, the majority of stages are new to the drivers, which means everyone faces the same challenge. We are in great form and I can hardly wait to get started."
"I used today's shakedown to fine-tune the set-up of my Polo," Latvala added. "Together with Finland, Poland is one of the fastest rallies of the year. You really have to put your foot down to do well here – but without coming off the road. It will be important to start well from the onset. The special stages look good, the Polo is ready, and the sun is shining: the conditions are definitely good. And I still have a score to settle after last year."
Hyundai's Thierry Neuville was next up in fifth, ahead of Meeke, Dani Sordo, Mads Ostberg, Elfyn Evans and Ott Tanak in positions 6 through to 10.
Rally Poland now begins this evening with the ceremonial start and the short 2.50km Mikolajki Arena 1 test, scheduled to start at 19.00 hours local time. The rally then gets underway 'proper' on Friday, with eight stages on the bill and a total competitive distance of over 150 km. Full itinerary for round seven in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Rally Poland: Shakedown times (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1m 39.1s
2. Robert Kubica
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1m 39.6s
= Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1m 39.6s
= Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 1m 39.6s
5. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 1m 40.0s
6. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 1m 40.2s
7. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 1m 40.3s
8. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 1m 40.6s
9. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1m 41.0s
10. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1m 41.1s
11. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC 1m 41.6s
12. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1m 42.2s
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial