Only a handful of top flight drivers sampled Rally Poland’s roads when it last appeared in the championship in 2009 – winner Mikko Hirvonen among them – and when they return to the Masurian Lake District they won’t find too much they remember.
The only stage to be used in exactly the same format is the Mikolajki Arena super special, which is run every day. And given what happened there on the final test five years ago, that’s a memory that Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala won’t want to recall…..
The stages have been likened to those in Estonia and Finland for speed, but without the stomach-churning jumps found in the latter country.
After a Thursday afternoon start in Mikolajki’s square, competitors face a short evening comprising two tests to the north-east before the super special.
Friday begins with a stage in Poland before heading east into Lithuania for two more close to the Belarus border. They are repeated after remote service in Druskininkai and competitors end the day in Poland with two more tests.
Lithuania becomes the 32nd country to feature in WRC and although it is one hour ahead of Poland, the rally will use Polish time to avoid confusion.
Saturday’s route is back in the provinces of Warmia and Mazury, north-east of Mikolajki. Five morning stages include the 35.17km Goldap, the longest of the rally and one which has never been used in competition. Four of the five are repeated in the afternoon.
The final day copies Thursday’s route before the live TV Power Stage over the 14.90km Baranowo.
There are 24 stages in total covering 362.48km in a route of 1671.34km.
It is expected the toughest tests will be in Lithuania, where the soft, sandy ground can conceal sharp rocks. The Polish roads are harder and less abrasive, but they are likely to be heavily rutted for the second pass.