Ogier pulls clear of trouble
World champion extends Poland lead after incident-filled morning
Saturday afternoon (SS16-20)
The stages in the afternoon were a re-run of those that were used in the morning – apart from the fact that the 14.90km test at ‘Baranowo’ was replaced with another run around the 2.5km Mikolajki super special.
Martin Kangur lost his stranglehold on third place in the WRC 2 category when he stopped around 80 metres into SS16. The Estonian had taken a wheel off his S2000-spec Ford Fiesta and was unable to go any further. That handed third place to a grateful Yazeed Al Rajhi.
Andreas Mikkelsen was 3.5s slower than rally leader Sebastien Ogier on SS17 and that helped the Frenchman to increase his lead to 22.8s. Mikkelsen admitted that he wasn’t going to try and chase his team-mate for the top spot. “The challenge is too far now so I’m just trying to control the pace and manage my tyres,” he conceded.
The biggest battle at the start of Saturday afternoon was between Thierry Neuville and Mikko Hirvonen for fourth place. Hirvonen beat his rival by 0.7s in the opening ‘Chmielewo 2’ test, to reduce the deficit to a single second. But on the next test, the gap increased by 4.7s. “There’s still places where we were not perfect our notes,” he explained.
Robert Kubica’s hopes of success on his home rally were ended on SS17 when he took a right-rear wheel off his Lotos-sponsored Ford Fiesta RS WRC. His misdemeanor handed sixth place to Jari-Matti Latvala in his VW Polo WRC. Kubica’s M-Sport team hoped that the former F1 driver could restart on Sunday under Rally 2.