Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier sits at the top of the Rally Poland leaderboard this evening but the Frenchman is being chased hard by team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, the Norwegian just 5.6 seconds adrift after nearly 280 kilometres of competition. The fight behind them is also intense with Jari-Matti Latvala and Ott Tanak trading third position throughout the afternoon. Tanak claimed the position overnight, but is only 17.6 seconds adrift of the lead and a mere 1.5 seconds ahead of Latvala with less than 30 stage kilometres remaining on Sunday.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have continued the solid performance level with which they started on Friday, extending their grasp on fifth place after another strong day of rallying.
Paddon said: “We have had another reasonably satisfying day and I think we can be pleased to be in the top five. We started off strongly this morning with two good stages but the two leading up to lunchtime service didn’t feel so good. The rhythm was missing and we lost some grip, which wasn’t ideal. I had a bit of a mental reset over lunchtime and the first stage of the afternoon went really well. The car felt good, the driving was clean and the time was decent. The penultimate stage of the day was tougher. We ran two hard tyres on the front and I nearly came off the road a few times as a result of some understeer at the beginning. Despite that, there are lots of positives to take from today and we now aim to defend our fifth place tomorrow.”
Hyundai Motorsport has completed the second day of this weekend’s Rally Poland with all four Hyundai i20 WRC cars still running well. The team has sought to make progress throughout the seven stages held today, but there are still areas of the cars’ performance to improve with two stages remaining on Sunday morning.
Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team driver Hayden Paddon (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) has extended his grip on fifth place in the overall standings just one place ahead of Hyundai Shell World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) in sixth. Dani Sordo (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) and Kevin Abbring (#10 Hyundai i20 WRC) have both continued to build confidence in their respective cars and will hope to complete the rally with a flourish tomorrow.
Today’s planned itinerary of eight stages was to include two attempts at Mazury (17.70km), Wieliczki (12.87km) and Swietajno (21.25km) routes, as well as a solitary pre-lunch Paprotki stage – the longest run of the day at 23.25km. Unfortunately, the sheer number of spectators on the stage meant that SS14, the repeat run of Mazury, was cancelled, leaving just three afternoon stages for drivers to master. The day concluded once again with a Super Special Stage held at Mikolajki Arena.
For the Hyundai Motorsport team to still have four cars running solidly after two highly competitive and challenging days at Rally Poland is a great achievement, particularly with two cars in the top six. However, the team never settles for less than its full potential, so will look to make more improvements in performance on Sunday morning.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We can be happy to conclude the penultimate day of this difficult rally with all four cars still running. The day has not been without its troubles but on the whole, we have seen some good pace from the Hyundai i20 WRCs and encouraging progress from all four driver crews. Of course, we are never happy until we know we have met our potential so we will be analysing today’s stages to see what we can do for tomorrow, the final day. With Hayden and Thierry both battling well in the top six, and Dani and Kevin also hoping to make improvements, we will keep pushing right to the end.”
Sunday will see the 14.60km Baranowo stage run twice, the second being the Power Stage. Despite just 29.20km stage kilometres separating teams and drivers from the end of the rally, these complicated Polish stages will still demand utmost respect and attention.
Overall Classification after Day Two
S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:12:23.2
A. Mikkelsen / O. Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +5.6
O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +17.6
J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +19.1
H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +55.7
T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.1
R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:29.2
K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:39.4
M. Østberg / J. Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:56.0
D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:17.1