Full speed ahead! That’s the message drivers must take on board for this week’s 72nd LOTOS Rally Poland (2 - 5 July) which is the first of two ultra-fast rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship in July.
After three consecutive rough-road rallies, the pace will hot up for round seven in Poland’s picturesque Masurian lake district where average speeds in 2014 almost topped 140kph – the highest of the season.
In contrast to the rocky tracks of recent rounds, Poland’s roads are unabrasive sandy gravel. They frequently become rutted during the second pass but don’t hide car-breaking bedrock which caused such attrition earlier this month in Italy.
Nineteen stages covering 313.53km lie in wait and almost 90 per cent is new compared to last year, some on roads used in the reverse direction.
Only one stage is identical to 2014, and that’s the super special stage alongside the Mikolajki service park which opens the action on Thursday evening and is repeated at the close of Friday and Saturday.
Friday features almost half the rally’s competitive distance and there will be no opportunity for a full service from the moment drivers leave Mikolajki in the morning until they return at night. The only respite for crews is a mid-leg tyre change.
The opening day takes drivers north-east towards the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and the border with Lithuania, although the event does not cross into Lithuanian territory this year. It includes two passes through the 39.12km Stanczyki test, the longest of the weekend.
Saturday brings another eight tests closer to Mikoilajki, covering 129.29km, before Sunday’s finale within touching distance of the town. It contains just two passes over the 14.60km Baranowo test, the second of which forms the live TV Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest three drivers.
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