Saturday | 04 Jul 2015

SS11: Ogier holds off pursuers

Sébastien Ogier overcame the road sweeping disadvantage to hold off his challengers through Saturday morning’s opening two stages at 72nd LOTOS Rally Poland.

Stage info: SS10/11

SS10: Mazury 1, 17.70km
Saturday’s opener is full of fast straights giving drivers the opportunity to push the car to its limits on roads that vary from cobbles, gravel, asphalt and sand. The opening half is narrow but it widens afterwards. A forested section at 4.3km offers a danger as the area to the side is soft and marshy.

SS11: Wieliczki 1, 12.87km
The stage starts on asphalt before joining a thickly-coated gravel road which will clean after the first few cars. It is narrow but fast, and drivers must remain tidy or risk going off. There are many straights and speeds will be high throughout.

He won Mazury to extend his lead over Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen to 5.1sec. The Norwegian retaliated in the following test, which contained more loose gravel, to bring the margin down to 2.3sec.

“It was really perfect through the two stages, I pushed all the time,” said Ogier after SS11. “I can’t do more, but I expect to lose a bit here because of the dirt on the road. The target is not to lose too much on the first loop, and gain time on the second loop this afternoon.”

Mikkelsen was hampered by hanging dust in Mazury and, after requests from the teams, organisers increased the gap between cars from two minutes to three.

“The fight is back on,” he said after going second fastest through Wieliczki. “It was a perfect run and my confidence is back on track. If we want to fight we have no choice but to be confident!”

Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth in both tests to retain third, but the Finn was not happy. “My performance isn’t at the level at which I want it to be. I can’t find the limit. Sometimes I attack corners too much, sometimes I’m too careful,” he said.

Ott Tänak spun his Ford Fiesta RS near the start of Mazury but bounced back to win the next stage. He is 3.7sec behind Latvala.

Hayden Paddon was second in Mazury and fifth in the next test in his Hyundai i20 to put space between himself and team-mate Thierry Neuville and Robert Kubica in their fight for fifth. Neuville relegated Kubica in SS10 when the Pole missed a junction and had to reverse.

Elfyn Evans stalled at the start of Mazury but worse was to follow as water pump problems forced him to retire his Fiesta RS before Wieliczki.

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