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WRC - 2017 Rally Poland - Saturday

The afternoon loop of Rally Poland stages have been packed with drama as all three leading drivers hit trouble in the same stage. Jari-Matti Latvala, third at the time, was the first; the Finn hit a compression and suddenly lost drive, forcing him into retirement. Tänak’s rear wing then fell off while he was leading and, while he was able to continue, the loss of downforce in the stage – and the remaining three stages – left the Estonian struggling with a totally unstable car. Thierry Neuville fared the best of the trio and while he lost over 20 seconds with a puncture, his was a quick fix at the end of the stage and he was able to then re-take Tänak for the overnight lead. However, he is only 3.1 seconds ahead, setting up an epic fight to the finish on Sunday.

As a consequence of Latvala’s retirement, Hayden Paddon has climbed into the final provisional podium position, the Kiwi driver also on a real charge this afternoon. While the 25.5 second deficit to the lead is too much to overcome on speed alone, he has had a clean run this afternoon and set two fastest times. Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was sixth going into the repeated loop after his earlier problems and then had concerns about the Fiesta’s engine. Even so, he managed to overhaul Dani Sordo for fourth after the Spaniard made a big mistake at a hairpin approaching it flat out. He then also picked up a puncture in the final long stage and overnight’s 11.8 seconds adrift of Ogier.

Teemu Suninen continues his fine run in his debut outing in the 2017 Fiesta WRC but admitted to driving too slowly and cautiously in the ruts, a WRC car able to survive this kind of punishment by comparison with his usual R5 machinery. He is sixth, on course for a career-best WRC result and ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre, the Frenchman still Citroën’s lead driver. After a trouble-free day, he then had a problem with the rear diff in the penultimate stage but was otherwise happy with his performance. Mads Østberg holds eighth with Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen in pursuit. 

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Ole Christian Veiby continues to lead and the Norwegian now has over a minute in hand to Pontus Tidemand. Both drivers suffered punctures in SS17 but Veiby fared better and extended his advantage significantly in this single stage. Nil Solans has control of the FIA Junior WRC Championship category, the Spaniard winning two of the afternoon stages to head Dennis Radstrom by 40.1 seconds.

The final day of competition on Sunday takes in two stages, both repeated, and 59.66 competitive kilometres.

Rally Poland – Provisional results after Section 5

1.   Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hr 10min 26.3sec

2.   Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 10min 29.4sec

3.   Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hr 10min 51.8sec

4.   Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 11min 58.3sec

5.   Dani Sordo / Marc Marti

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2hr 12min 10.1sec

6.   Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 12min 32.5sec

7.   Stéphane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau

Citroën C3 WRC

2hr 12min 46.6sec

8.   Mads Østberg / Ola Floene

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 13min 12.1sec

9.   Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta WRC

2hr 13min 49.4sec

10. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger

Citroën C3 WRC

2hr 14min 00.9sec