SS20/21: Neuville clear as Ott crashes
Thierry Neuville carries a lead of more than a minute into the final two speed tests of Orlen 74th Rally Poland after Ott Tänak crashed out of the lead on Sunday morning.
Stage info: SS20/21
SS20: Orzysz 1, 11.15km
A new stage for 2017. It is full of fast sections, jumps and technical parts and is very quick throughout. The roads are rutted in places, with grass down the middle in the narrower less-used parts. Many sections are also lined by tall grass, which restricts visibility.
SS21: Paprotki 1, 18.68km
Paprotki is back on the itinerary after being introduced two seasons ago. It is highly varied, with sandy gravel, asphalt and cobblestones offering differing challenges. The roads are narrow initially, but widen until a crossroads jump leads onto narrower tracks. In the village of Paprotki the route winds around a lake before a real motorway section full of jumps leads to the finish.
One of the most remarkable battles in recent WRC history ended when Tänak hit a tree and smashed the front of his Ford Fiesta in the 18.68km Paprotki. He limped to the finish but the damage was too great for the Estonian to continue.
“It happened at a single slippery place in the forest,” said Tänak. “I hit a bank with the rear and it pulled the front into a tree at high speed. That’s it. You need to push hard if you want to win,” he said.
Neuville was fastest in the stage and quickly jumped out of his Hyundai i20 to commiserate with his rival.
“I didn’t know about his problems. I’m sorry for him because he did an unbelievable rally. A lot of people in the previous stage told me he was pushing far too hard,” said the Belgian.
Neuville lost his slender overnight advantage in Sunday’s opening Orzysz test. Tänak set a blistering pace to win the stage by 4.9sec and regain the lead by 1.9sec heading into Paprotki.
Tänak’s demise left Hyundai with a 1-2, as Hayden Paddon climbed into second, 63.3sec behind his team-mate. Sébastien Ogier filled the final podium place, a further 65.6sec adrift.
Teemu Suninen dropped a handful of seconds after stalling his Ford Fiesta at the start of Paprotki, while Andreas Mikkelsen dropped 20sec after overshooting a slippery junction.
Stéphane Lefebvre completed Paprotki with a fence post wedged in the front grille of his Citroën C3. Inside the car, the Frenchman had a tool bag under his pedals. “My fault, we worked on the car before the stage. The tools were under my feet, I lost concentration,” he said.
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