for Rally Poland leaderboard after SS13
DMACK's Ott Tanak dominated Saturday's opening loop of Rally Poland, winning all three stages to extend his lead.
Tanak started the second leg with a 4.2 second advantage, but was quicker than his rivals in every single test, making the most of being eighth in the order, to complete Babki 1 with his margin up to 18secs.
“Obviously I can see there's a lot of cleaning but I had a perfect stage!” Tanak remarked after the first test of the day, and after beating Hayden Paddon by 4.2secs and Andreas Mikkelsen by 6.7s.
"Feels quite fast in the car. Another good stage,” added the Fiesta RS WRC pilot after SS13. “Our tyre was working well on his hard surface. I am enjoying it a lot. A nice weekend.”
Meanwhile, VW Motorsport II pilot Mikkelsen remains Tanak's biggest threat, but was unable to mount a challenge from third on the road.
"I gave it everything," Mikkelsen said after coming in second in SS12. "At the absolute maximum everywhere. We have to take big risks if we want to try and fight at the top. And we really want to."
Behind, Paddon was more or less able to stay in touch with Mikkelsen, the gap increasingly only marginally, from 6secs on Friday night to 6.9secs post-SS13.
“We're driving our own rally,” said the Hyundai pilot. “Over driving a bit here [in Babki 1] - hanging it out in a few ditches. We'll try and keep the pressure on.”
Further back, Sebastien Ogier has lost touch with the top-three, slipping from fourth to sixth, and behind Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Ogier was only 9th in the first test, and then came in 11th in SS12 – branding it a “disaster”, before finishing the morning with 7th in SS13.
“I have nothing special to tell you. Completely on the limit, a few times in the ditch,” said the VW #1 after losing out as the first runner in.
Neuville also had problems, with a broken gear lever slowing him slightly in SS12, and Latvala has continued to struggle, although despite overshooting a junction and stalling in SS13, felt somewhat more positive: “That cost us about three seconds but now the driving is better and the speed is coming,” said the Finn, who earlier had again said he was “lost”.
Stephane Lefebvre continues to head the Abu Dhabi Total WRT DS 3 WRCs, now 11.9secs up on team-mate Craig Breen, and peaking with the second best time in SS13.
M-Sport duo Eric Camilli and Mads Ostberg complete the top ten with Dani Sordo 11th and WRC2 class leader Teemu Suinen 12th.
Suinen, however, has a battle on his hands if he wants to keep the position, as Esapekka Lappi has closed, cutting the gap from 4.6secs to just 1.9secs. Elfyn Evans – quickest in WRC2 in SS11, SS12 and SS13 – holds third, 12.9secs further back.
Day two of Rally Poland now continues this afternoon with repeat runs through all three of this morning's tests, although in a re-gigged order, starting with the 25.50km Stanczyki 2 test [SS14] at 14.50 hours [local time].