Rally Poland win for Ogier
VW star takes a 50-point championship lead with latest victory
We review the WRC drivers from last weekend’s LOTOS 71st Rally Poland with the first of a two-part round-up.
Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R)
Seb was reminded he has more than one team-mate capable of challenging him. Had a fierce duel with Andreas Mikkelsen for the first two days in which the lead swung to and fro. He gained breathing space on Saturday morning when the Norwegian made several mistakes and a later brake problem meant it was an easy Sunday for Ogier. The winning margin flattered him, but another fantastic drive and his 50-point lead looks ominous.
Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3)
Seventh could easily have been a podium. Held third until entering Lithuania where a lowly road position meant he lost time in the ever-worsening ruts. But still on for big points until he punctured a front left tyre on Saturday and lost 2min 30sec. Dropped off the leaderboard but used Sunday to climb back to seventh. Encouraging to see him fighting near the front for the opening few stages.
Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)
A few frustrations for the Welshman through the opening two days before he became the first of several to hit a rock in a crazy first running of the long Goldap stage. The impact damaged a front suspension link and despite valiant efforts to make repairs, he was sidelined for the day. Restarted first in the running order on the final leg, but even that didn’t offer proper experience of road cleaning as the tests had been used previously.
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20)
One of the best drives of the rally to deliver Hyundai’s second podium. With some updates on the car, he hovered around the top six until the handbrake locked the rear brakes late in SS9 and the result was flames and fire extinguishers at the stop line. Plunged to 10th but combined pace with an ability to keep out of trouble and surged to third on Saturday. He had no intention of letting anyone take that away on Sunday.
Robert Kubica (Ford Fiesta RS)
A typical Kubica rally – with the good, the bad and the ugly all on view. Delighted his legions of fans with great pace in places. Delivered the almost obligatory crash when he rolled on the opening night, but escaped with losing only 25sec after prompt work from spectators in putting the car back on its wheels. He held sixth until running wide and damaging his right rear wheel in SS17 and tackled the final day under Rally 2.
Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)
A bit of a nightmare event for the Czech driver. Back pain, the legacy of an injury from the previous round, and an ill-handling car made for an uncomfortable start. Almost rolled at the same place as Krzysztof Holowczyc, then a missing bolt left a wheel pointing in an alarming direction. A loose bonnet and a Sunday morning overshoot added to his woes. Still, he took a point for 10th place.