We reflect on PZM 73rd Rally Poland and which of the leading drivers tamed the super-fast roads in the first part of our summary.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 1st
Mikkelsen led for a good part of the opening leg, but couldn’t hold off an inspired Ott Tänak. His determination never wavered though and he kept the pressure on the Estonian by holding the margin under 20sec. When Tänak punctured in the penultimate stage, Mikkelsen was there to reap the rewards of a drive he rated his best yet. His second career win promoted him to second in the championship points.
Mads Østberg (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 8th
Not the result anyone expected after a strong showing in Italy last month. Loved the fast roads and enjoyed the driving – but, by his own admission, the times were poor. But for suspension issues that hampered Eric Camilli in the final stage, he would have finished behind his team-mate who is still learning how to drive on gravel. He has just over three weeks to find a remedy before the pace goes even higher in Finland.
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) Result: 4th
Another good showing by Neuville to follow his win in Italy last month. His pace notes were too slow for the lightning fast roads on the first full day, and the Belgian reckoned that might have cost him a shot at the win. He made changes overnight, relegated Sébastien Ogier down the order, and came within a fraction of a second of doing the same to team-mate Hayden Paddon in the final stage. Had the bonus of taking the final Power Stage point.
Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 6th
Rain was the key to Ogier’s fortunes. Had it fallen on Friday or Saturday as originally forecast, he could have overcome the handicap of opening the roads and won the rally. It didn’t and he struggled in the sandy, loose conditions. Instead it poured down on Sunday when the running order was reversed and that did him no favours. He was on the ragged edge at times, with a couple of visits to the ditches. Most unlike the Frenchman.
Craig Breen (DS 3) Result: 7th
After almost six months out of the car since Sweden, the Irishman slipped back into the DS 3 as if he was putting on a pair of comfy slippers. Fought tooth and nail with team-mate Lefebvre throughout, and became a little frustrated by the repeated comparisons between the duo as they chase a 2017 drive with Citroën. He did his chances no harm though, and a third fastest time on Friday afternoon was way above his expectations.
Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 11th
Confidence was lacking in the Italian’s car in the opening leg. He wasn’t happy with his pace notes, felt his driving was too cautious, had a spin and also hit a big hole. It all added up to a far from satisfactory 15th. He worked on his notes overnight and found more pace on Saturday, despite a bizarre incident when a bee found its way into his Fiesta RS! Survival was the name of the game on the final day.