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WRC Rally Poland: Tanak re-takes lead with stage win hat-trick

Ott Tanak completes day one of Rally Poland on top, 4.2secs up on Andreas Mikkelsen, while Hayden Paddon holds third, 6secs further back; Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville complete the top five
CLICK HERE for Rally Poland leaderboard after day 1, SS10


Ott Tanak re-took the lead on Rally Poland on Friday afternoon, winning three stages in succession to vault back up to the top of the leaderboard.

Tanak was involved in a thrilling three-way fight for the lead all day, trading times with Volkswagen's Andreas Mikkelsen and Hyundai's Hayden Paddon.

Starting the day third, having been 0.3secs slower than Thierry Neuville on Thursday night in the short Mikolajki Arena SSS, the Estonian was quickest in the first 'proper' test to put the DMACK WRT in P1. However, he then slipped back to second, and despite going quickest in SS4, ended the opening loop in third, losing another position in SS5 after 'only' going sixth quickest.

On the repeat loop, Tanak continued to push, and fastest times in SS6, SS7 and SS8 put him 3.2 seconds up on Mikkelsen.

Tanak then lost a few seconds in SS9, before setting the joint quickest time in SS10, the second blast through the 2.50km Mikolajki Arena SSS.

He will now go into Saturday's second leg with a 4.2second advantage over Mikkelsen, who in turn is 6secs up on Paddon.

“It's been a great day, especially this afternoon when I found a great rhythm,” said Tanak.

“The stages have been so fast, and some were quite rough, but the 'button' was in. If you want to win there is no other way.”

Mikkelsen, in contrast, was less happy on the repeat loop, and struggled in the ruts, while Paddon also complained about the bumps, despite taking his third stage win of the day in SS9.

“An exciting day with a great battle for the lead. This morning I felt extremely comfortable in the Polo. It was a real pleasure to tackle these fast and beautiful special stages. However, I was not 100 per cent happy with the set-up in the afternoon,” Mikkelsen confirmed.

“Despite this, we put our foot down and tried not to lose any time or gift the opposition a tenth of a second. All in all, I am happy, as we got the maximum out of the day. We still have two challenging days ahead of us – and we are looking forward to them.”

“Registering two stage wins early on was an ideal way to get the event underway. It's been pretty close at the front throughout the day. Even this afternoon, when things didn't run quite as we'd hoped, we've been able to stay in touch and add another stage win,” Paddon added.

“There's still some room for improvement, but we know where we need to focus so we'll sort out a plan of action for Saturday...”

Meanwhile, Sebastien Ogier holds fourth, 16.3secs off the lead and 6.1secs off Paddon in third after again losing out as the road opener, as is his 'privilege' as the Championship leader.

“Tomorrow will be even worse I think,” Ogier told the official WRC site. “I pushed as hard as I could today but I could do nothing.”

Thierry Neuville is next up in fifth, losing time in the morning, but generally happier in the afternoon.

“All in all, we can reflect on a positive day. We got the event started in the right way on Thursday evening with a stage win. Unfortunately, we lost a bit of time during the first full morning loop,” he said.

“Each stage had two or three sections where our pace notes were a bit slow, so we worked on improving that during lunchtime service.

“The afternoon went well, apart from losing a bit of time in SS9 (Stare Juchy) at a hairpin, so I'm quite pleased. We're here to fight at the front and we're definitely in a strong position. I'm looking forward to Saturday's stages, which are very technical.”

Jari-Matti Latvala lies sixth, unhappy with the feeling with his Polo R WRC, and now over 35secs off the lead.

“A very bad day overall. No feeling for the driving and I don't understand it. I am not together with the car. I have no words,” he remarked post-SS9.

Further back, Stephane Lefebvre continues to head the Abu Dhabi Total WRT DS 3 WRCs, albeit just 1.7secs up on team-mate Craig Breen, with M-Sport duo Eric Camilli and Mads Ostberg ninth and tenth from Dani Sordo and WRC2 class leader Teemu Suinen.

Suinen inherited the WRC2 lead at the end of the day, when Pontus Tidemand was forced out in the penultimate stage. Esapekka Lappi is second in the support class, 4.6secs back, and Elfyn Evans holds third.

Rally Poland now continues on Saturday with almost 125km competitive kilometres on the bill. A loop of three stages - Goldap, Stanczyki and Babki - will be repeated with one run in the morning and one in the afternoon. The day culminates with a third run through the short 2.50km Mikolajki Arena SSS.
by Rob Wilkins



Related Pictures

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Ott Tanak (EST) Raigo Molder (EST), Ford Fiesta WRC, Dmack WRT

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