M-Sport's Ott Tanak leads Rally Poland after Friday morning's opening loop, having won three of the four stages.
Tanak, who was sixth quickest on Thursday evening in the short Mikolajki Arena SSS, jumped up to second in the first test of the day, the 13km Gorklo test (SS2), finishing it just 0.5 seconds behind Andreas Mikkelsen, despite reporting some brake issues.
The Estonian then went fastest in SS3, 2.4s up on Mikkelsen, to move to the front, before topping the times again in SS4 and SS5, even though he continued to have problems with the brakes.
Tanak now heads into the 30 minute mid-day re-group in the town of Goldap with a 9.3 second advantage.
“It's been a really enjoyable morning. The stages are so fast and really good fun to drive. In places I've actually been pushing quite hard just because I love it so much!” Tanak remarked. “We've had quite a few issues with the brakes. On the second half of the long stage [SS5] we only had the front brakes and no brakes at all in some corners! It was a bit challenging but I really want to keep the speed up and we are looking to manage the situation.”
“Luckily this is a fast rally so you don't need to use the brakes too much. We'll just keep it flat,” he added.
Meanwhile, having led initially after winning SS2, Mikkelsen slipped back to P2, losing 4.7s in SS4 and 4.5s in SS5: “Ott is doing a good job,” said the VW Motorsport II pilot. “We will see in the afternoon if he will be as fast, but never say Ogier is not a threat either, because he will be extremely fast on the second loop.”
Despite running first on the road, Ogier ended the morning just 7.4s back in P3 in his Polo R WRC, having gone fifth quickest in SS2 and SS3, second in SS4 and third in SS5: “The morning loop was good. No tyre issues at all - I think mine must look like new. I was a little hesitant on the first stage perhaps but flat-out after that,” he remarked.
Behind, Jari-Matti Latvala is fourth, 6.1s off team-mate Ogier and 10.7s up on the Citroen DS 3 WRC of Kris Meeke.
“Not a good stage for us,” said Latvala after SS5. “We made three mistakes: one in a junction, one when we nearly went into a ditch and one with the pace notes.”
Thierry Neuville rounds out the top six for Hyundai, with team-mates Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo seventh and tenth, sandwiching local star, Robert Kubica in eighth and Elfyn Evans in ninth.
“The feeling hasn't been too bad but there is certainly scope to push a bit more. We have some areas to work on this afternoon – mainly in the slower sections as I don't feel we're quite clean enough there,” Evans said. “Also I think we can afford to slide the car a little bit less and with more confidence on the second loop we can look to do that.”
Of the rest, Citroen's Mads Ostberg lies just outside the top ten in P11, reporting he is just “missing something”, while WRC2 class leader, Esapekka Lappi is twelfth. Lappi leads the principal support category by 20.5s. Karl Kruuda is second in WRC2, with Pontus Tidemand third.
The action now continues this afternoon, with four more stages on the bill, including a second run through the short 2.50 km Mikolajki Arena SSS. SS6, the 14.65km Babki 2 test, is scheduled to start at 14.15 hours local time. Full itinerary for round seven in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Rally Poland: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):
1. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 42m 00.6s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 09.3s
3. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 16.7s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 22.8s
5. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 33.5s
6. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 37.1s
7. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +0m 38.4s
8. Robert Kubica
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 41.6s
9. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 42.1s
10. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 55.1s
11. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 58.2s
12. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 +1m 30.0s
13. Kevin Abbring
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +1m 41.1s
= Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 41.1s
15. Lorenzo Bertelli
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 45.3s
16. Karl Kruuda
Citroen DS 3 R5 +1m 50.5s
17. Pontus Tidemand
Skoda Fabia R5 +2m 03.2s
WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):
1. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 43m 30.6s
2. Karl Kruuda
Citroen DS 3 R5 +0m 20.5s
3. Pontus Tidemand
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 33.2s
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial