SS4: Tänak double earns Poland lead
Estonian takes charge after two stage wins
Stanczyki 1, 39.12km
A thin layer of loose gravel marks Stanczyki out as different to Friday’s other tests which generally have a deeper covering. A short asphalt section after 5km leads onto a wide gravel track which continues almost to the finish. It passes through a wind farm at 25km.
Victory in Stanczyki, the longest test of this seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, stretched his lead to 9.3sec as competitors headed to Goldap, close to the Russian border, for the leg’s only tyre change opportunity.
The Estonian completed the test with the front tyres on his Ford Fiesta RS badly worn, the legacy of a brake problem which hindered him for the last two stages. “Sometimes only the front brakes are working,” he explained.
Andreas Mikkelsen, second in a Volkswagen Polo R but 4.4sec slower than Tänak, was hoping the repeat afternoon stages would offer more equal conditions after losing time sweeping gravel from the roads.
“Ott has done a great job and we’ll see if he is as fast this afternoon. And don’t say Sébastien Ogier isn’t a threat either. He’ll be very fast in the second loop,” said Mikkelsen.
Ogier was third in Stanczyki, the Frenchman slipping 16.7sec behind Tänak but happy with his speed from first on the road. He was 6.1sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in the standings but it was a bad stage for the Finn, who made three mistakes, the worst of which left his Polo R hanging over a ditch.
Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville relegated Hayden Paddon as they climbed to fifth and sixth respectively. Paddon struggled to find a rhythm in his Hyundai i20 but stayed ahead of local hero Robert Kubica, Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo.
The morning was characterised by a blistering pace on the sandy gravel roads and less than nine seconds covered Meeke in fifth and Evans in ninth.