SS15: Mikkelsen
refuses to concede

The see-saw battle for victory at 72nd LOTOS Rally Poland between leader Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen took another twist as the Norwegian closed the gap in Saturday afternoon’s opening action.

Stage info: SS14/15

SS14: Mazury 2, 17.70km
Mazury 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.

SS15: Wieliczki 2, 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.

Following the cancellation of the Mazury test (see below), Mikkelsen was fastest through Wieliczki. He sliced 1.4sec from Ogier’s advantage to leave the margin between the two Volkswagen Polo R cars at 5.8sec.

The cancellation did little to help Mikkelsen’s pursuit. He opted for Michelin’s hard compound rubber in the scorching temperatures, hoping their durability would favour him against Ogier’s mix of hard and soft rubber. But he needed every kilometre to count to benefit from their endurance.

“I hoped for the loop to be as long as possible to get the advantage but the cancellation ruined that plan. We have one more proper stage before the super special, so let’s see what we can do,” said Mikkelsen.

The fight for third between Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala also continued unabated. A rejuvenated Latvala was third, 0.6sec ahead of Tänak’s Ford Fiesta RS, to relegate the Estonian to fourth by half a second.

Hayden Paddon was second quickest in Hyundai’s i20 to consolidate fifth from team-mate Thierry Neuville. The gap increased to 15.1sec.

Mazury was cancelled for safety reasons due to large crowds. Organisers said too many fans did not respond to instructions from the safety crew, and to guarantee the safety of spectators and competitors the test was scrubbed.

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