Saturday | 04 Jul 2015

SS13: Ogier edges clear in Poland

Sébastien Ogier extended his lead at 72nd LOTOS Rally Poland in Saturday morning’s stages despite cleaning the gravel tracks in his position as road opener.

Stage info: SS12/13

SS12: Swietajno 1, 21.25km
Short asphalt and cobbled sections lead onto soft gravel after 850 metres and the roads become increasingly wider as the stage progresses. It passes through fields with tall grass on either side and picking out corners through the vegetation at high speed will be tricky.

SS13: Paprotki, 23.15km
The second half of Paprotki uses the same roads as SS2, but in the reverse direction. As a result there are deep ruts in the sandy surface in the quick corners. After a fast start, the test passes through villages after 7km and 17km. An asphalt section at 19km leads into narrow roads through farms and over crests to the finish.

After trading seconds with closest rival and Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen in the opening two tests, Ogier stretched his advantage in the next two stages.

Second in Swietajno added almost a second to his lead. Ogier did more damage to Mikkelsen’s victory hopes in the live TV Paprotki stage when he used cleaner roads to go fastest by 4.1sec from the Norwegian to lead by 7.2sec.

“It was a great loop. I expected better conditions from the last stage because we did part of it in the opposite direction yesterday. My tyres look like new. When you’re first on the road there’s not so much grip,” said Ogier.

Mikkelsen made two mistakes early in Paprotki and admitted matching Ogier this afternoon on repeated clean roads would be tough. “It will be difficult but we’ll keep trying,” he said.

Ott Tänak spoiled Volkswagen’s clean sweep of the podium by relegating Jari-Matti Latvala to third. The Estonian won Swietajno and was second in Paprotki in his Ford Fiesta RS to move a tenth of a second clear.

A downbeat Latvala slipped 20.1sec off the lead and recognised his victory chances were virtually finished. “I can’t catch Ogier at this speed. Getting onto the podium is now the most realistic situation,” he said.

Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon strengthened his grip on fifth in Swietajno, but handed time back to team-mate Thierry Neuville in the next test when he struggled in the ruts. The gap is 11.0sec.

Robert Kubica overshot a hairpin in Paprotki but remained seventh ahead of Kris Meeke, while Citroën’s Mads Østberg moved ahead of Dani Sordo into ninth.

Kevin Abbring lost 20sec after landing in the undergrowth following a crest in Swietajno, filling his Hyundai’s air intake with foliage and causing the water temperature to rise. The Dutchman dropped three minutes in the next stage after beaching his i20 in soft sand.

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