Monday, 30 June 2014

Rally - Polo in Poland


Photo: CITROEN RACING/AUSTRAL

The Volkswagen Polo WRC team were in command again in Poland at the weekend with three cars in the top five places. Ogier won by over a minute from team mate Mikkelsen. Best news was that Hyundai got on the podium with Thierry Neuville’s third place finish ahead of M-Sports’ Mikko Hirvonen and the Polo of Jari-Matti Latvala.

Kris Meeke finished seventh whereas team mate Mads Ostberg didn’t finish at all. Mads rolled his Citroen when the car hit a rock. He was third at the time but was not allowed to re-start because the roll cage had been damaged in the impact.

After running as high as third at the start of rally, Kris lost almost three minutes when he picked up a puncture on SS14. Relegated to eleventh position, he began a long fightback.

Ninth at the start of the final day, the DS3 WRC driver got the better of Henning Solberg on SS21 before moving ahead of Hayden Paddon on SS23. He finished seventh overall, scoring six World Championship points.

Afterwards Kris said: “It was an interesting rally in terms of experience. We were among the frontrunners. Unfortunately, the stages in Lithuania didn’t work out very well for us and we then had a puncture on the long stage. Climbing back up from eleventh to finish seventh isn’t a bad result, but it could have been much better. I’m nonetheless pleased to have gained in confidence and gathered a lot of data to help us prepare well for the next round in Finland.”

Finishing second in the Junior WRC were Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble in their Citroen: “We made a cautious start to the rally. We really had to avoid making any mistakes after our retirement in Portugal. I upped my pace on Saturday. And although we picked up a puncture, we were able to stay among the frontrunners. Second place is a good result. We needed to build our confidence back up before heading to Finland. I should be able to use my experience at the next round.”

It wasn’t such a good event for the M-Sport squad either. Mikko Hirvonen just missed out on a podium finish and Elfyn Evans finished in a very disappointed 35th place: "I think it's fair to say that it was a difficult start for us. We were able to build the pace as the weekend went on, but it took me a little longer than I would have liked to adapt. Once we started to get used to the speed, I think the times were quite promising,” said Elfyn, “Just as we were getting to the point where we felt comfortable to up our game and push a bit more, we hit the rock which caught out so many crews on SS14. It was a shame for sure, but that's just the way it is sometimes and you have to put it down to experience.”

"It was good to get back out today – to get some more mileage and perfect the notes for the future. It wasn't a fantastic run being first on the road, but on the whole it has been a very productive weekend. It's all good practice ahead of Rally Finland. We've got a bit of a break now but with a good test before the rally I'm sure we'll be looking for a strong result."

Final Leaderboard:
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:08:47.3
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:07.7
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:13.5
4. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:32.4
5. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2:33.1
6. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:49.9
7. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +4:27.9
8. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:32.1
9. Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:59.0
10. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:11.3

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