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Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Ott Tanak has cemented his advantage at the head of the Rally Poland leaderboard and the Estonian is just 60 kilometres away from a maiden FIA World Rally Championship win. A string of fastest times this morning enabled him to pull away from his rivals and second-placed Andreas Mikkelsen is now 21.3 seconds adrift which, at the fast pace of this rally, makes it difficult but not impossible to overcome. Hayden Paddon maintains third after an incident-free day and the Kiwi driver is also within striking distance of Mikkelsen and a potential second position.

The second full day of competition on Rally Poland took the crews north for another three stages, each run twice before returning for the final visit to the Mikołajki Arena. Tanak was on the pace from the outset and he set a string of fastest times in the opening three stages to extend his lead from 4.2 seconds last night to 18 seconds by the mid-leg tyre fitting zone. Running without service, all the crews had to be mindful of carrying any damage through the day but the Estonian, in his DMACK shod Ford Fiesta RS WRC, has had an all-but faultless day. Mikkelsen pushed to the limit over the morning stages and maintained the pace this afternoon, albeit overshooting a junction in the final long stage and losing precious seconds. One stage victory has helped his charge and the Norwegian will continue to fight for victory for Volkswagen, although wet weather is forecast and could change everyone’s strategy tomorrow. Hayden Paddon continues to fly the flag for Hyundai but the Kiwi admitted to overdriving the car this morning, losing time in the process. He is however still in the hunt and hot on Mikkelsen’s heels with just 6.5 seconds between them.

Thierry Neuville has climbed to fourth today, overhauling Sébastien Ogier in the first stage of the day despite feeling his pace notes were too slow. Bizarrely his gear lever also fell off and in to the foot-well of the i20 WRC in the following stage, losing him precious time. He fared better this afternoon and was pleased to have moved one place up the leaderboard. Jari-Matti Latvala also climbed from sixth to fifth, both he and Neuville benefitting as Sébastien Ogier lost more time today running first on the road. The Frenchman struggled more than yesterday and, on the limit, was lucky to escape from dropping into a ditch on two occasions. The Championship leader admitted it had been another tough day in the office, perhaps one of the hardest of the season to date. He is sixth overnight.

Frenchman Stephane Lefebvre has had another fine day and has also been pushing to the limit, his charge rewarded with a maiden fastest stage time this afternoon. His is now 12 seconds ahead of DS3 WRC team-mate Craig Breen who completed the day happy with his performance. Ninth is held by Eric Camilli; in his first outing in Poland he is intent on gaining experience and is now under threat from team-mate Mads Østberg who is a mere 4.3 seconds adrift in the second Fiesta RS WRC.

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship category Esapekka Lappi leads for Skoda Motorsport. The Finn heads fellow countryman and Fabia R5 driver Teemu Suninen, the rivals split by 10.8 seconds overnight. The Junior WRC Championship continues to be led by Simone Tempestini, the Italian now with an unassailable lead – baring problems – over Terry Folb. Ole Christian Veiby, second throughout the day, dropped to third with a broken driveshaft in SS15.

Rally Poland – Unofficial Classification after Section 5

1.   Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 05min 37.2sec

2.   Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 05min 58.5sec

3.   Hayden Paddon/John Kennard

Hyundai i20 WRC

2hr 06min 05.0sec

4.   Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 WRC

2hr 06min 20.7sec

5.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 06min 41.7sec

6.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2hr 06min 45.3sec

7.   Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau


2hr 06min 58.4sec

8.   Craig Breen/Scott Martin


2hr 07min 10.4sec

9.   Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 07min 47.8sec

10. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

2hr 07min 52.1sec