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WRC - 2017 Rally Poland - Sunday

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul racked up their third victory of the FIA World Rally Championship season in Poland today after a neck and neck fight which ultimately forced Ott Tänak into an unlucky mistake as he pushed to the maximum for the win. The Estonian powered into the lead in today’s opener but then hit a tree in the following stage, leaving Neuville with an unassailable lead of over a minute. As such, Hayden Paddon and Sebastian Marshall - waiting in the wings - moved up to second to give Hyundai a one-two, with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claiming the final podium position for M-Sport.

“I’m really happy,” said Neuville. “We’ve been strong in the last couple of rallies. Our main goal was to catch points on Ogier and we’ve done that two events in a row. Closing up the gap is a good achievement. The end of the Championship will be really interesting and tough.”

In the FIA World Rally Championship, Ogier retains his lead but Neuville has narrowed the gap and is now just 11 points adrift in the Drivers’ Championship. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, maximum points for Hyundai Motorsport also sees the Korean marque edge to within 22 points of M-Sport with five rounds remaining.

The final day of Rally Poland was set to be a thriller with Neuville in the overnight lead and Tänak just 3.1 seconds adrift. The Estonian set the opening stage alight and, 4.9 seconds faster than his rival, powered into the lead. However, in the following test the Estonian hit a bank with the rear of the car which pulled the front-end into a tree. While he was able to complete the stage, he was then forced out with too much damage; the second consecutive year he has been so close to claiming the winner’s trophy in Poland. Neuville was fastest in this stage and the next to take a one minute 13 second advantage into the Power Stage. He was only fifth fastest but wasn’t prepared to risk the win for a top haul of extra points. Sitting in third and too far adrift of the fight for the win, Paddon was watching in the wings and his no risk strategy paid off as he moved up to second following Tänak’s off. Similarly, Ogier was hanging back for a push and maximum points in the Power Stage but he ended up in a field in the penultimate stage when the car snapped out at the rear. Four points in the Power Stage were a welcome addition to his tally however.

Behind the leading trio, Dani Sordo had a near miss with a tree this morning and then a puncture this afternoon, but fourth for the Spaniard alongside Hyundai’s one-two was a great result for the team. Stéphane Lefebvre had a tricky morning, off the road in the first stage and then he clipped a fence in the second, distracted by a tool kit that worked loose and ended up under the brake pedal. Nevertheless he managed to move into fifth in the Power Stage, benefitting when Teemu Suninen had a near off. While a fine result for the Finn in his first outing in a 2017 World Rally Car, he was disappointed to have made a mistake in the final stage of the rally. Mads Østberg claimed seventh and Elfyn Evans eighth. Andreas Mikkelsen moved into ninth for Citroën despite an overshoot this morning and Juho Hänninen was Toyota’s lead driver in 10th overall. Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala - returning under Rally 2 regulations - took some consolation from maximum points in the Power Stage.

Ole Christian Veiby won the FIA WRC 2 Championship, the Norwegian claiming his first victory in the category after leading for all but the first stage. He beat Pontus Tidemand by 32.9 seconds and moves into second in the Championship. Nil Solans took his third consecutive victory in the FIA Junior WRC Championship and continues to top this category and the FIA WRC 3 Championship.

The FIA World Rally Championship contenders now head to a classic on the calendar, the ‘Gravel Grand Prix’ - Neste Rally Finland (27-30 July).


Rally Poland - Final Unofficial Classification

1.   Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hr 40min 46.1sec

2.   Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hr 42min 10.0sec

3.   Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 43min 06.9sec

4.   Dani Sordo / Marc Marti

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hr 43min 33.5sec

5.   Stéphane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau

Citroën C3 WRC

2hr 43min 57.9sec

6.   Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 44min 02.9sec

7.   Mads Østberg / Ola Floene

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 44min 25.7sec

8.   Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 45min 25.2sec

9.   Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger

Citroën C3 WRC

2hr 45min 29.6sec

10. Juho Hänninen / Kai Lindström

Toyota Yaris WRC

2hr 45min 39.8sec