Rally Poland: update #3
Mikkelsen regains the lead on Friday's opening test
Kris Meeke drove into SS5 in third place, but exited a place worse off. The Citroen driver was 6.7s slower than his team-mate Mads Ostberg in the 12.92km test and that allowed the Norwegian to steal his position with 2.9s in hand. Meeke blamed his time loss on the condition of the forest road. “The ruts were huge, it was like a full second pass,” he said. “I was going absolutely flat out into the corners but then I had to go down a gear to get out.” Ostberg’s fastest time also meant Juho Hanninen dropped a place to fifth.
A casualty on the fifth stage was privateer driver Michal Solowow in his M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Pole was 16th heading into the stage but an unexpected trip into a ditch cost him almost ten minutes. “I missed a corner,” he explained. “It was a ‘five left’ corner in our pace notes but it should have been a ‘three left’. We were a little bit too quick.”
The rally lead changed hands once again in SS6 as Sebastien Ogier’s fastest time enabled him to leap past Andreas Mikkelsen with a cushion of 1.5s. The Frenchman said the road was damp and he felt that running first on the road was an advantage. “I didn’t take any risks but I’m happy with my time,” he said.
While Ogier was brimming with confidence, his main championship rival, Jari-Matti Latvala, was suffering a crisis of confidence. He was 4.3s slower than his team-mate on the 17.97km stage and that left him 29.4s off the lead. He was hugely deflated, despite him moving up to fourth place as those further behind him on the road dropped time in the rutted stage. “I don't have the best feeling and I don’t have the fighting spirit for the victory,” he said. “Now we have to see what we can do.”