Suninen eyes top six
Finn makes World Rally Car debut in Poland
Friday 1 July 2016
Tänak led in Poland on Friday night after outgunning Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon in an exciting fight over super-fast sandy roads in the north of the country.
The Estonian, driving a Ford Fiesta RS, headed Mikkelsen’s Volkswagen Polo R by 4.2sec, with Paddon a further 6.0sec behind in a Hyundai i20.
Tänak relegated Thierry Neuville, who led after Thursday night’s curtain-raising test, in Friday's first stage. Mikkelsen then moved ahead before three consecutive wins enabled Tänak to regain the initiative. Paddon won three stages but was never comfortable with his car.
Championship leader Ogier was fourth, 16.3sec off the lead in his Polo R. The Frenchman hoped thunderstorms would arrive to offset the disadvantage of opening the roads in loose conditions, but the day stayed dry.
Neuville was fifth, despite dropping two wheels into a field, with a dispirited Jari-Matti Latvala completing the top six.
Saturday 2 July 2016
Tänak extended his lead on the rally's longest leg, ending 21.3sec clear of Mikkelsen with Paddon third a further 6.5sec behind.
Tänak won all three morning stages to increase his lead to 18.0sec, making the most of better grip than his rivals further up the start order. Mikkelsen initially regained a few seconds before Tänak stemmed the loss. Mikkelsen later overshot a junction as he gave his all to catch up.
Neuville climbed to fourth, while Latvala overshot a junction en route to fifth. The Finn overhauled despondent team-mate Ogier, who was on a hiding to nothing in the sandy conditions from his position as road opener.
Stéphane Lefebvre scored his maiden WRC stage win as he retained seventh ahead of Citroën DS 3 team-mate Craig Breen.
Sunday 3 July 2016
Mikkelsen snatched a dramatic last-gasp victory after long-time leader Tänak was cruelly deprived of a maiden WRC win.
Tänak’s car suffered a puncture in the penultimate rain-soaked stage, wiping out his near-20sec lead and allowing Mikkelsen to claim a second career success. "It was like a war in the penultimate stage and it was all about luck, who got out without problems, and we were the lucky ones,” Mikkelsen said.
Tänak finished second and was inconsolable at the finish. Ogier was one of the first to offer his commiserations and hoisted Ott onto his shoulder as a mark of respect.
Paddon completed the podium, 2.3sec behind Tänak. However, the New Zealander almost relaxed too much in the final stage, allowing team-mate Neuville to close to within 0.8sec.
Latvala finished fifth, a further 4.5sec back, with Ogier sixth. Breen finished seventh, moving up after Lefebvre smashed his car’s rear left suspension after spinning into a tree.