Poland debrief: part 2

In the second part of our analysis of the weather-hit Orlen 74th Rally Poland, we delve into one of the most enthralling WRC events in recent years.

Driver of the Rally
Two obvious candidates here were eventual winner Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, who delivered a duel which took this fascinating title battle to a whole new level.

But we plumped for a third option. On the heels of Esapekka Lappi’s fine drive to fourth in Italy, fellow countryman Teemu Suninen added further evidence that rallying’s future in Finland is in safe hands with a tremendous drive to sixth on his World Rally Car debut.

It would have been fifth but for a Power Stage spin and included a win in Friday’s Wieliczki speed test – only his sixth stage at the top level. Other drivers who topped the times first time out include Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Ogier….

Save of the Rally
Sunday morning’s Paprotki stage was bizarre for Stéphane Lefebvre.

He finished it with a large wooden post wedged in the front grille of his Citroën C3 after swiping a fence (below). Remarkably the car suffered no lasting damage.

At the same stop line the Frenchman leaned down into the footwell to remove a tool bag which had been under his pedals for most of the test. “My fault, we worked on the car before the stage and the tools were under my feet!” he explained.

Turning Point of the Rally
Leader Tänak had bigger problems in Paprotki. Having just snatched the lead back from Neuville, the rear of the Estonian’s Ford Fiesta clipped a bank in a wet and tricky section and the front slammed into a tree.

He limped to the finish but the damage was too great to continue. Neuville was in the clear to take his third win of the season and a memorable duel between the two title contenders was over.

You’ll Never Believe It
Poland brought an incredible 10 changes of leader in 22 stages.

Once Jari-Matti Latvala exited the fight with transmission problems in his Toyota Yaris, the Neuville-Tänak battle was comparable to a heavyweight boxing fight.

One of them delivered a knockdown punch to take the lead, only for the other to pick himself up from the canvas, land an even bigger blow and move back in front. Incredible stuff.

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