Ogier holds slender advantage in Poland
The world champion edges out Andreas Mikkelsen by only 0.9s
Saturday morning (SS11-15)
The longest day of the rally kicked off with a three-stage opening loop that was then followed by another two stages. The longest stage of the morning was ‘Goldap 1’ which measured 35.17km.
It’s normally hard to find much time on a short stage. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday’s 6.75km opener. Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen were a class above the rest of the field at ‘Chmielewo 1’.
Mikkelsen was marginally quicker than his rally-leading VW team-mate but the pair were almost four seconds faster than everyone else in the chasing pack. Ogier, whose lead had shrunk to 0.5s, said: “The real battle is starting. There are a lot of kilometres to do, so I had to be fast from the first stage.” The distance between the duo, after 50 minutes of competition, was now only 16.46 metres.
The pace at the front of the field told on Mikkelsen during Saturday’s second stage. He was only eighth fastest on the 14.41km stage and that gifted Ogier a big improvement on his lead – it swelled from 0.5s to 10.1s. “I did a mistake in the beginning at a junction,” Mikkelsen explained. I couldn’t get the car in reverse and lost maybe 10 seconds. I think the pace note was a bit wrong.”
Mikkelsen’s mistake also allowed Mads Ostberg (above left) to edge closer to his second place. The Citroen driver was fastest by 3.2s on Saturday’s second stage and that reduced the gap to Mikkelsen’s VW from 22.5s to 9.7s in only 14.41km. Ostberg was pleased with his pace. He said: “That was a good, clean stage for me. I was pushing a bit more than I did on the first one.”
There was drama in the WRC 2 category as fourth-placed Sebastien Chardonnet (below) crashed out on SS12. The Frenchman was pushing to try and reduce the 18.6s gap to Martin Kangur in front of him but he overcooked it and Citroen DS3 R5 didn’t even make it to the first time split.