Saturday | 28 Jun 2014

Rally Poland: update #7

Our seventh update from Lotos 71st Rally Poland

Local hero, Krzysztof Holowczyc, exited his home rally in spectacular style on Saturday’s third stage at ‘Babki 1’. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver was reported to have rolled off the road. Fellow privateer, Martin Prokop, said he narrowly avoided suffering the same fate at exactly the same point.

Elfyn Evans’ charge on the next stage (SS14) came to a sudden stop 33.6km into the test. The M-Sport World Rally Team driver hit a rock at the side of the road and the impact damaged his Ford Fiesta’s front-left suspension. He stopped at the side of the road to try and repair the damage but was unable to get back on his way and exit the stage.

Elfyn Evans had to stop in SS14 to try and repair his Ford's damaged suspension

Robert Kubica’s hopes of progressing any further on his home event looked decidedly shaky after SS14. The Pole picked up a puncture on the 35.17km test. Ordinarily, he would have changed to a new tyre before heading to the next ‘Baranowo 1’ test. However, he only had one spare wheel inside his Ford Fiesta and he’d already used that to fix a puncture he picked up on Saturday’s first stage. He faced an uncertain future.

The Citroen pairing of Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg also hit trouble on SS14. Meeke was the first to falter. He sustained up a front-left puncture and dropped 2m 47s as he drove to the end of the test on a damaged Michelin tyre. That dropped him from fifth place to 11th. Ostberg’s fine run of form was broken – literally – when he clipped a rock and took a wheel off his DS3. His third place was gone. It was a disappointing end to the Norwegian’s rally, particularly as he was threatening to catch Andreas Mikkelsen ahead of him.

Sebastien Ogier had to stop in SS14 to get past Ostberg's stricken Citroen

Ostberg’s rally-ending drama benefitted Jari-Matti Latvala and he moved up to third place. But the VW pilot was fortunate to even make it to the stage end after he also hit a big rock on the inside of a fast left-hand bend. The impact caused his Polo’s strut to come crashing through the wheel arch and bonnet. He had to perform some major surgery at the side of the road in a bid to make it to the next stage before service.

As if there wasn’t enough drama, the rally lead also changed on SS14 as Mikkelsen edged past Sebastien Ogier. The Norwegian was 18.5s faster than his team-mate on the long stage, but Ogier’s progress was delayed when he was forced to stop to negotiate his way past Ostberg’s stricken Citroen that was stranded in the middle of the road. “I had to stop because we couldn’t go past Mads’ car. I lost quite a lot of time,” Ogier explained. The Frenchman had been 3.3s faster than Mikkelsen at the split before he stopped so he expected to get his time loss back from the event stewards at the end of the leg.

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