Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has extended his advantage on Rally Poland to 7.2 seconds following Saturday morning's opening loop.
Ogier, who began the day with a 2.1 second cushion over team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, initially extended it to 5.1 seconds, when he was quickest through the 17.70km Mazury 1 test, the first stage of the leg. However, Ogier was then only sixth in SS11, before coming back with the second fastest time in SS12 and then another stage win in SS13.
“Very happy - it has been a good morning loop for me,” said Ogier, who earlier described his driving as 'pretty much perfect'. “The road was not as clean in here [Paprotki, SS13] as I was expecting but no problem.”
Meanwhile, Mikkelsen complained about hanging dust in SS10 and while pleased that the organisers extended the stage intervals from 2 minutes to 3 for SS11, he was still beaten by the Frenchman in three of the four morning tests – losing 4.1s alone in SS13.
“I made a couple of mistakes, especially near the beginning. It got better towards the end, but I gave away a few seconds. It will be tough to catch him,” the VW Motorsport II pilot said after the final test of the loop.
Behind, M-Sport's Ott Tanak has regained a podium position after overhauling Jari-Matti Latvala in SS13. Tanak spun in SS10, but was then quickest in SS11 and SS12 and second in SS13 to finish the morning just 0.1s ahead.
“It's been a nice morning although we had a bit of a silly mistake in the first stage [SS10] - spinning and having to reverse which cost us about eight seconds. After that I just pushed as hard as I could and we made quite a lot of time back which was good,” Tanak said.
“Everything is working really well and I feel great in the car. I feel really confident so we just have to keep the same pace and see where we end up. We need to take everything step-by-step. Andreas is 13 seconds up the road, but first we need to work to stay on the pace of Jari-Matti and keep him behind us. All in all though, I think we have done a pretty good job.”
“I can't explain it,” Latvala added after SS13. “I thought it was a good run, but the time is not. A podium this weekend is now the most realistic expectation.”
Hayden Paddon is next up for Hyundai, 31.4s off the fight for third, and 11s up on team-mate, Thierry Neuville.
Former F1 driver and local star Robert Kubica has slipped down a place to seventh, suffering a spin in SS10 and a small off in SS12. He is now 13.1s adrift of P6.
Citroen duo Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg hold eighth and ninth, the latter demoting Hyundai's Dani Sordo to tenth in SS12.
Of the rest, Ford privateer Martin Prokop is eleventh – more than 1.5 minutes off a place in the top-ten – and one spot ahead of WRC2 class leader, Esapekka Lappi. Lappi leads the principal support class by 36.2s. Pontus Tidemand is second and Karl Kruuda third.
M-Sport's Elfyn Evans became the first major retirement this morning, when he had to stop on the road section to SS11. He should now hopefully be able to re-start on Sunday under Rally 2.
“They say bad luck happens in threes so hopefully that's the end of it now!” Evans said back in service. “Our rally came to an end pretty early on today with a water pump failure before SS11. It's just one of those things – another tried and tested part carried over from the previous car – and we just have to move on and put it behind us.
“I feel as though our pace was more or less in the ball park. There is still some work to be done for sure and the stall on the start line [on SS10] didn't help, but I felt as though we could have achieved the speed we were looking for this weekend. Unfortunately we haven't had chance to prove that today, so let's try and prove it in Finland.”
Rally Poland now continues this afternoon, with three more stages on the bill and then a third run through the Mikolajki Arena SSS this evening. SS14, the 17.70km Mazury 2 test, is scheduled to start at 15.38 hours local time. Full itinerary for round seven in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Rally Poland: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1h 54m 25.8s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 07.2s
3. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 20.0s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 20.1s
5. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +0m 51.5s
6. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +1m 02.5s
7. Robert Kubica
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 15.6s
8. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +1m 33.4s
9. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +1m 49.9s
10. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +2m 00.5s
11. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 33.6s
12. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 +4m 07.7s
13. Pontus Tidemand
Skoda Fabia R5 +4m 43.9s
14. Karl Kruuda
Citroen DS 3 R5 +5m 51.2s
15. Lorenzo Bertelli
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7m 06.8s
16. Kevin Abbring
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +7m 07.6s
WRC2 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 1h 58m 33.5s
2. Pontus Tidemand
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 36.2s
3. Karl Kruuda
Citroen DS 3 R5 +1m 43.5s
SS10/11. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Suspected water pump failure
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial