for Rally Poland leaderboard after Day 2, SS17
DMACK's Ott Tanak will go into the final day of Rally Poland with a 21.3sec lead over Andreas Mikkelsen.
Tanak concluded the leg by taking his fourth stage win of the day – and his ninth of the event - increasing his lead by 1.8 secs.
Earlier, he had won all three stages this morning to more than quadruple his overnight advantage – up from 4.2secs to 18secs post-SS13.
Although he then saw that margin cut slightly in SS14 and SS15 this afternoon, he responded in SS16, before going quickest again in the short 2.50km Mikolajki Arena SSS.
“We are in a good shape,” Tanak said. “I was flat out in every corner this morning and did everything I could to extend the lead.
“I knew the afternoon would be tough in the extreme heat, it's not easy for the tyres, but I'm relaxed and hope I have enough in hand.”
“It was a good afternoon, except for the Goldap stage when we missed a junction and lost a few seconds,” Mikkelsen added.
“I could not give any more. You never know. We will try and push tomorrow. It may be very slippery.”
Behind, Hayden Paddon holds third, 6.5secs off Mikkelsen, and 15.7secs up on Hyundai team-mate, Thierry Neuville.
“Not a bad day,” Paddon summarised. “It's still very close up front between me and Andreas, with Ott doing a good job a bit further ahead.
“I enjoyed this morning's pass with some more nice stages before things got rougher in the afternoon.
“In the hot conditions, the car was moving about a bit in places but I was pleased with the improvements we'd made overnight. We were committed in the afternoon loop, and just concentrating on our own rally.
“We'll prepare for a final podium push on tomorrow's four stages. The rain that's forecast could make things very interesting!”
“We have had a positive day, moving up into fourth position overall,” Neuville continued. “The morning wasn't perfect. We struggled with the pace notes on the opening stage, and then had a small issue with the gear lever which cost us a couple of seconds in SS12 (Stanczyki).
“The ride height of the car was a bit low at the start of the afternoon loop [too], so we adjusted that and gave a big push in the second Babki stage.
“We have just tried to maintain our good rhythm, keeping smooth and fast. I have been quite pleased with my driving and with our performance so far this weekend.”
Jari-Matti Latvala holds fifth, finally getting back in the groove and quickest in SS16 after admitting he was “lost” on Friday, one spot up on Sebastien Ogier, struggling as the first driver on the road.
“For me in the role of 'road-sweeper' it was one of the toughest days I've ever had. As such, it is hard to really enjoy driving at this pace,” Ogier said.
“We were right on the limit, and even beyond on a few occasions. We actually had a few precarious moments. I am quite exhausted now, both from driving and from the high temperatures in the cockpit. We will give it our all right through to the finish – then see what happens.”
Further back, Stephane Lefebvre lies seventh, winning his very first stage in SS15, while Craig Breen, Eric Camilli and Mads Ostberg fill positions 8 through to 10, followed by Dani Sordo in eleventh and WRC2 class leader Esapekka Lappi in 12th.
“There's no question that winning your first WRC stage is an important step in a driver's career!” Lefebvre remarked.
“We had already set the second fastest time on the first pass on the Babki stage and we managed to go even quicker on the second run. Overall, it has been an encouraging day, because we also matched the pace of the leading drivers on the sections that were new for everyone.
“I feel I am getting close to the limits of the car when the road is relatively flat and 'readable'. It's more difficult in the ruts and the sections full of potholes and rocks. In conditions like that, I think I still have too many instincts from the lower categories and am not making full use of the potential of the suspension systems. But we'll be looking for more of the same tomorrow.”
Rally Poland now draws to a close on Sunday, with just under 60km on the bill, and two stages, Baranowo (21.25km) and Sady (8.55km), both of which will be run twice. SS18, Baranowo 1, is scheduled to start tomorrow at 08.20 hours local time.