Friday | 03 Jul 2015

SS7: Ogier charges into Poland lead

Sébastien Ogier turned the 72nd LOTOS Rally Poland leaderboard on its head after winning Friday afternoon’s opening two stages to take the lead.

Stage info: SS6 / SS7

SS6: Babki 2, 14.65km
Babki, which runs close to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, is fast and varied. It starts on gravel but just after the midpoint it switches to a cobbled surface, and changes several times more in the following 1.5km as it twists and turns around houses. Dips in the road could cause problems.

SS7: Stanczyki 2, 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.

He was quickest by 1.5sec in his Volkswagen Polo R from Robert Kubica in the repeated Babki stage before climbing from third to first in the second pass through Stanczyki, where he outpaced team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 1.2sec.

Ott Tänak ceded 16.0sec and the lead to Ogier in Stanczyki, the Estonian regretting his tyre choice and continuing to struggle with brake problems in his Ford Fiesta RS.

As air temperatures rose to near 30˚C, tyre selection became a complex issue. Many drivers opted for soft compound rubber for the soft and sandy roads, but the heat prompted some to favour harder covers, which proved the right choice for the rally’s longest stage.

Tänak chose soft and dropped to third in the standings. “No brakes, no tyres. I don’t know how we can mess up our tyre choice so often. OK, it’s done and we all agreed with the choice, but it’s not nice,” said the Estonian.

Andreas Mikkelsen dropped time after sliding into a field in Babki, but third in the following test kept the Norwegian in second place, 1.7sec behind team-mate Ogier.

Hayden Paddon took hard rubber for his Hyundai i20 and fourth in Stanczyki promoted the Kiwi back into fifth, behind Latvala and ahead of Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville. The Belgian retained sixth, but Meeke plunged three places to eighth with wrong tyres.

Lorenzo Bertelli punctured his Fiesta’s front left tyre while Kevin Abbring and Elfyn Evans overshot junctions, the Welshman another driver to rue his tyre choice.

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