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Poland (and Lithuania) - 26-29 Jun 14

Posted: June 28, 2014 9:57 PM - 3481 Hits

Round 7 - 2014 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Poland 2014) | Also available at: rally-base results
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: irallylive.com | www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Poland (Rajd Polski)

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times (Poland is 1 hour ahead of Ireland/UK)
SS1 Thu - 15:40
SS4 Fri - 08:10
SS11 Sat - 07:00
SS21 Sun - 07:15

Modern Tyres Renews Support For Alastair Fisher

Posted: June 25, 2014 1:46 PM

Enniskillen based Modern Tyres, with 40 branches throughout Ireland, has renewed its support with one of the UK and Irelands leading rally drivers, Alastair Fisher. The name Fisher is synonymous with rallying and Alastair has been making a name for himself on the world rally stage.

This year, Alastair is competing alongside some of the world’s fastest young guns in the Junior WRC and has already proven what a talent he is. Against 15 other drivers in identical Citroen DS3s, Alastair, along with co-driver Gordon Noble built up a lead of one and a half minutes on the opening round on Rally Portugal only to be caught out on the rough rock strewn gravel stages when his Citroen slid off the road and out of the rally.

Alastair had previously won the Junior WRC section in Portugal, in 2012 at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta. The Modern Tyres Citroen DS3 will soon be on the road again, with the next round of the Junior WRC series set to take place this weekend on Rally Poland. This will be a first for the Trillick driver who has never competed on the fast sandy stages around Warsaw before which also includes stages in Lithuania. After Poland, the Modern Tyres backed team will travel to the ultra fast forest roads of Finland before a trip to the first of two tarmac rounds in Germany and then France with the Junior WRC championship finishing in November in the Welsh forests of Rally GB.

Commenting on his renewed backing, Alastair said, “"I'm very excited to continue my association with Modern Tyres, they are a thriving company with a fresh new look. I’m really looking forward to promoting their new branding on the world stage over the rest of the season." The new look and branding on Alastair’s rally car is just one of the many new initiatives to come from Modern Tyres, explained Group Marketing Manager Stephen Shaw, “We are delighted to continue our support with Alastair Fisher in the 2014 Junior World Rally Championship,” noted Stephen, “and with new branding, new look and new offers coming from Modern Tyres this year, the company along with Alastair are aiming to lead from the front.”

Unknown territory for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:42 PM

The world champions will be venturing into terra incognita from 26 to 29 June 2014 when the team’s three Polo R WRC vehicles traverse Poland at a rallying pace and with spectacular drifts for the first time. The defending champions and current leaders Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), the second-placed duo Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) can look forward to high-speed action, smooth gravel tracks, hilltops followed by lengthy jumps, and the rally with the longest history after the legendary ‘Monte’. While this will be the first rally in Poland for the 315 hp World Rally Car made in Wolfsburg, the three Volkswagen teams already have experience of driving in Poland – and all of them have a score to settle there.

Ahead of the seventh event in the current FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which sees Poland return to the fold of host nations for the first time since 2009, and with one rally still to go before the summer break, Ogier/Ingrassia and Volkswagen Motorsport are already the ‘half-time champions’ of the WRC. And while Ogier/Ingrassia will do everything they can to extend their lead, Latvala/Anttila have their sights set firmly on closing the gap and reducing the front-runners’ current 33-point lead. The Ogier vs. Latvala duel recently delighted the spectators in Argentina and Italy. And thousands of fans are expected to turn up to see not only the 24 special stages over 362.48 kilometres that make up Rally Poland, but also the service park in Miko?ajki. In addition, the rally will feature a foray into Lithuania on Saturday for several special stages.

“Rally Poland is the only event in the WRC calendar that we have never before tackled under competition conditions with the Polo R WRC,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “But that doesn’t make any difference to the goal we have set ourselves of winning in Poland too. We have prepared ourselves for this challenge with a compact, intensive three-day test and we have the vehicle that everyone currently needs to beat – the Polo R WRC. Ten wins in a row speak for themselves. As do the achievements of our three drivers in the rallies that have already taken place. I firmly believe that Ogier versus Latvala has the potential to become this season’s ongoing thriller. And let’s not forget Andreas Mikkelsen, who has had some fantastic rallies so far this season and who is already one of the world’s best drivers at the age of 24. Our opponents will do everything they can to beat us. In a nutshell, we are very much looking forward to Rally Poland.” ?

Three days of testing – Volkswagen team engages in intensive preparations for Rally Poland

Two weeks prior to the start of Rally Poland, Volkswagen carefully prepared for the task ahead with tests. The factory-backed duos Ogier/Ingrassia, Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Fløene each had a day in which to familiarise themselves with the conditions in and around Miko?ajki. Rally Poland is characterised by fast stretches on sandy gravel with lots of hilltops – it occasionally has similarities with Finland, but there are fewer forest-based stages and more turn-offs. The rally is also extremely changeable in terms of the weather – for example, last year’s entrants in what’s now the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) found themselves stuck in the mud during the pre-rally recce.

Goldap, Kapciamiestis and Miko?ajki Arena – the highlights

Polish premiere: the 35.17-kilometre Goldap special stage features for the first time in 2014 and is enough to set rally fans’ hearts racing. This event highlight is characterised by spectacular hilltops and long jumps, and also long bends to really test the drivers’ courage. SS Kapciamiestis is likewise new to everyone and is one of four stages being held across the border in Lithuania. Here, too, there are fast, uninterrupted stretches on hard gravel. However, the absolute highlight promises to be the shortest stage in Rally Poland – the circuit in front of spectators in Miko?ajki Arena. The 2.5-kilometre super special stage is just a stone’s throw from the service park and features in the rally a total of four times.

Rally number 20 for the Polo R WRC, or: The story so far in figures

19 rallies, 16 wins and 28 podium finishes – the track record of the Polo R WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is something of a motorsport dream come true. The 315 hp four-wheel drive vehicle has so far taken part in 343 special stages – and has clinched victory in 226 of them. And in the Power Stages where there are bonus points up for grabs for the top three teams, the Volkswagen drivers have struck it lucky no less than 32 times. A Polo R WRC finished up front 13 times in the 18 Power Stages held thus far, giving Volkswagen a Power Stage victory rate of 84 per cent since January 2013. And in terms of podium spots, it boasts a victory rate of 53 per cent: out of 19 rallies with Volkswagen, Sébastien Ogier has made it onto the winners’ rostrum 16 times, while his team rival Jari-Matti Latvala has notched up a tally of eleven. Rally Poland will be the 20th rally contested by the Polo R WRC.

2009 and three scores to settle for the Volkswagen duos

Three drivers, three different teams and three early exits: Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen all have something to prove in Poland. The defending champion and current overall leader Sébastien Ogier had to pull out of the rally early in 2009 due to a technical malfunction, having been comfortably on course for third place with Citroën. Jari-Matti Latvala, who was with Ford at the time, had an accident a few hundred metres from the finishing line at the spectator stage in Miko?ajki, which took him out of the running having been in second place. And Andreas Mikkelsen likewise had to abandon the rally early in his Škoda Fabia WRC.

First work, then play: football fever hits the Volkswagen team

Ecuador versus France, Honduras versus Switzerland, USA versus Germany, Portugal versus Ghana, and Korea versus Belgium – there will be plenty for everyone in the Volkswagen team to talk about other than all the rally action on the Wednesday and Thursday of Rally Poland. The Volkswagen Motorsport team members will be paying extra special attention to the World Cup matches above, as there is someone in the team who will be keeping their fingers crossed in each case, be it the world champion driver and co-driver, the technical director, an engineer, the head mechanic, a mechanic or the motorsport director. Volkswagen will be represented by the following ‘united nations’ in Poland: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Quotes ahead of Rally Poland

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The most important thing is that we are currently in the lead in the WRC and that we even managed to extend our lead in Sardinia recently. Obviously, we want to keep up the good work in Poland. We know we can’t always win, but we have to set ourselves the goal of always scoring as many points as possible in a rally. It’s my aim this year to maintain a 25-point lead – in other words, a full race victory – over the team in second place at all times. Because you never know what might happen. I don’t think we can make much use of our pace notes from 2009 or what we experienced back then, as it’s too long ago. I may take a look at some of the on-board footage we shot back then. On the whole it’s fair to say that this year’s rally is new territory for everyone. We carried out a test in the run-up to the rally, and it went very well. We mainly focused on getting the vehicle set-up right for the conditions in Poland. The track was very fast and it was interesting to familiarise ourselves with the track surface. It’s very sandy and soft, so after a few cars have driven over it, it can quickly break up and become uneven. As a result, we expect the track conditions to be very different when we tackle the special stages for a second time in the afternoon.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Rally Poland consists of very fast stretches with lots of jumps, a bit like in Finland. But the difference is that there is less forest in Rally Poland and the special stages are more often held in open country. Also, the surface is sandy, rather than rocky. I already have a rough idea of what to expect in Rally Poland as I competed there in 2009. But the WRC drivers now perform at such a high level – they can very quickly adapt to different conditions, surfaces and grip levels. So it certainly won’t be easy. Some of the special stages are the same as in 2009. Even so, we are writing a completely new set of pace notes and won’t be referring to our old notes at all. The special stages being held in Lithuania are new. So there are a lot of new elements, and we therefore need to prepare very carefully. The fans in Poland are crazy about rallies. That was already the case in 2009, and it will be even more intense this time around because Robert Kubica is now competing in the WRC. There’s bound to be a great atmosphere.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“After doing well with Ola in Rally Italy, I’m now looking forward to Rally Poland. I picked up some experience there in the Škoda Fabia WRC in 2009 and I really enjoyed that. Rally Poland is very, very fast. The special stages are pretty sandy, so it definitely won’t be easy. There will be a lot of spectators there to support us and, of course, in particular Robert Kubica, who is something of a national hero in Poland. The fans will be treated to some long jumps and a great show. There’s just a great atmosphere there. The route is pretty fast with stretches of uninterrupted driving, which should suit my driving style nicely. I’m confident that we will achieve a good result there. We came fourth for the third time in Italy. So I’d like to improve that by at least one place this time.”

Did you know …

    ... that Rally Poland has been running since 1921? After Rally Monte Carlo, which started in 1911, it’s the oldest rallying event that’s still going today.

    ... that although Rally Poland has been going since 1921, it has only been part of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) twice to date? That was in the first year of the world championship in 1973 and in the 2009 season. From 1964, the Polish rally was part of what’s now the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) on 44 occasions.

    ... that the first winner of Rally Poland was the local hero Tadeusz Heyne in 1921? Driving a Dodge, the Pole came through against six other opponents in the event.

    ... that a German won the first WRC rally in Poland in 1973? Achim Warmbold won the rally, driving a Fiat. And his co-driver was Jean Todt (F), the current president of the FIA, the world governing body for motorsport.

    ... that the Ford duo Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN) clinched victory in Poland’s last guest appearance in the World Rally Championship in 2009?

    ... that the Volkswagen Group brand Škoda won Rally Poland in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) in 2012? The duo Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), who were also in the lead overall in the ERC at the time, won the event with a Škoda Fabia Super 2000.

    ... that Rally Poland replaces Rally Greece in the 2014 WRC calendar? Last year in Greece, the Volkswagen duo Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) scored their first ever victory in the Polo R WRC.

    ... that the 2014 competitors can look forward to 24 special stages comprising 362.48 timed kilometres in total? The full distance of the rally is 1,671.34 kilometres. The four special stages being held in Lithuania on the second day are a new addition since the 2009 rally.

    ... that the 2014 rally headquarters will be in the tourist town of Miko?ajki, which has a population of approximately 3,800 and is in the Polish voivodeship (province) of Warmia-Masuria?

    ... that the 71st Rally Poland is being organised by the Polish Motor Union (PZM) in partnership with the Lithuanian Automobile Sport Federation (LASF)?

    ... that this will be the first time in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) that a rally is held in two countries in different time zones? Poland is on central European time (UTC +01:00), while Lithuania uses eastern European time (UTC +02:00). However, Rally Poland will use the same time for the whole of the rally – Polish time has been set as the rally time.

    ... that Rally Poland has been held on gravel roads around the Masurian Lake District since 2005?

    ... that there will be an evening spectator stage under the floodlights at Miko?ajki Arena on four of the rally days?

DMACK Fiesta Trophy Promises Battles In Poland

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:39 PM

After an ultra-competitive opening round at Portugal in April, the battle for honours in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy is set to hot-up when the series heads to round two in Poland next week. When the new Trophy kicked off on the technically abrasive roads at Rally de Portugal, five different drivers topped the overall standings during the three-day event before Estonian Sander Pärn snatched victory on the very last loop of stages.

But, as Lotos Rally Poland hasn’t featured on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar since 2009, the crews’ relative lack of experience puts everyone on a much more level playing field and some serious competition is expected in Miko?ajki.

Two drivers, however, have an obvious advantage. Runner-up on the opening round, British driver Tom Cave tackled Rally Poland in 2009 and set a series of fastest stage times in his Ford Fiesta ST. Local driver Szymon Kornicki is also likely to benefit from a home advantage with his experience of the Polish roads and support from the hoards of home fans expected to turn out next weekend.

However, there are many other competitors who can’t be discounted. Frenchman Quentin Gilbert also led for a spell in Portugal and his current WRC 2 campaign will ensure he’s fully up to speed. The high-speed stages in Poland will also suit Max Vatanen from Finland and Norway’s Marius Aasen while the three Spanish drivers, José Suárez, Yeray Lemes and Nil Solans could also spring a surprise.

Belgium’s Ghislain de Mévius will be hoping for a strong haul of points to back up his third place podium in Portugal while two new co-drivers will take part in the Trophy for the first time. Joseph Matar joins Nicolas Amiouni in an all-Lebanese partnership and Irish driver Darragh Mullen makes his WRC debut alongside Canada’s Leo Urlichich.

The Rally Poland stages are set to challenge the entire field. The high speeds and super fast roads mean accurate pace-notes will be vital. Most of the surfaces are pretty soft and sandy, and are expected to rut significantly for the second pass. To cope with the conditions, competitors will use DMACK’s medium compound gravel tyre with a maximum of 14 available over the weekend. It’s also the first round where cars will be powered by sustainable race fuel provided by the Trophy’s official partner GEM Fuel.

While the majority of the 24 competitive stages take place to the north-east of host town Miko?ajki in the picturesque Masurian Lake District, Friday’s action will see crews trek across the border for two loops of two stages in Lithuania separated by a remote service.

Poland is also a home event for the M-Sport team which prepares and runs the identical Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars used in the Trophy. Each one has been re-prepped after Portugal at the team’s workshops in Krakow and drivers will give them a final shake down on Thursday morning.

While the 12 crews battle it out for the ultimate prize of a full season in the 2015 WRC 2 championship using a Fiesta R5, DMACK and M-Sport have also added two new awards to this year’s package. Competitors who had taken part in a maximum of two WRC events before the start of the season will be eligible for the Rookie Award – with the winner at the end of the year going forward to the season-ending Shoot Out to win a one-off WRC 2 outing in 2015.

They will be joined by one winning crew from the Drive DMACK Fiesta Shoot-Out on each of the five Trophy rounds – an extension of the main series which allows drivers to compete alongside the championship regulars with their own cars and a subsidised entry and tyre package.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:
“I’m expecting Rally Poland to be pretty competitive. Everyone has an event under their belt to settle in and the conditions in Poland should be easier on the cars and provide the foundations for some close battles. The softer road conditions should suit DMACK but competitors will need to be careful on the second pass, with rutted roads increasing the potential for sharp rocks.”

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport managing director, said:
“Following the close-fought competition that we saw in Portugal, I’m sure that we’ll see more of the same next weekend. We have a very determined group of talented crews and there will be a number of drivers looking towards victory in Poland. This will be a new event for most of the competitors. Offering something much closer to a level playing field, the crews will be able to judge where they are and where they need to make improvements.”

Lotos Rally Poland Info
Based: Miko?ajki, Poland
Ceremonial start: 15.30 Thursday 26 June
Finish: 14.00 Sunday 29 June
Stages: 24 stages, 362.48km
Longest stage: SS14/19 Goldap 35.17km
Surface: Soft gravel
Tyres: DMACK DMG2 compound G42, maximum 14 tyres permitted

Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy standings after round 1
1. Sander Pärn / James Morgan 25
2. Tom Cave / Craig Parry 18
3. José Suárez / Pablo Marcos 17
4. Ghislain de Mévius / Johan Jalet 15
5. Yeray Lemes / Rogelio Penate 14
6. Marius Aasen / Marlene Engan 8
7. Szymon Kornicki / Przemyslaw Mazur 8
8. Leo Urlichich / Andrew Roughead 4
9. Max Vatanen / Mikko Lukka 2
10. Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul 1
11. Nil Solans / Miquel Ibanez 0
12. Nicolas Amiouni / Carlos de Barrio 0

Driver Quotes

Marius Aasen:
“My aim in Poland is to finish the rally without any problems at all. I know we have the speed to win rallies, but we will focus on not taking any chances. I have never been driving in Poland before, so I don’t know any of the stages – but I’m sure we will enjoy the stages and I hope we will quickly adapt to this type of roads. We will drive a rally in Norway the weekend before, so I hope to be well prepared.”

Nicolas Amiouni:
“The aim is to finish the rally and accumulate experience with this car and on gravel. Although Portugal didn’t go as planned, I hope I will get to the finish in Poland and improve my pace throughout the event. Being last on the road for sure will be challenging because of the deep ruts but I’m currently here in Poland testing on similar roads. I switched co-drivers because of Carlos’ back injury. Joseph and I have competed together previously in Cyprus, France and Jordan so we are looking forward to the new challenge.”

Tom Cave:
“Poland is very unique, I competed back in 2009 so that gives me a good idea of what preparation needs to be done going into the recce. The stages are really nice to drive, they will reward drivers who are brave and committed. I want to win but I’m under no illusion how hard that will be. I’d like to come away from Poland leading the championship as that will give me a good confidence boost going into Finland next month. I’ve competed a lot in Latvia and Lithuania before where the conditions are similar so I’m hoping that experience will really help.”

Quentin Gilbert:
“With our bad result in Portugal we must take maximum points to get back into the title race, so we will do everything we can to win Rally Poland. It’s good that the rally is new to everyone, it's good for the sport because it is never easy to compete against drivers who have already competed on a rally several times before. The experience gained in recent rallies with the R5 will help me, not necessarily technically, because they are two completely different cars but the feeling behind the wheel, the feeling of speed.”

Yeray Lemes:
“I got some good points in Portugal but we need to aim for another strong result in Poland to try and move up the championship table. I like the challenge of a new event and we showed on the first round that the pace is there. With a new rally like Poland, experience of the Fiesta R2 will be important on the fast stages so I think we have a good chance for a top finish.”

Szymon Kornicki:
“Poland will be a bit difficult. It’s my home rally and my friends and family are expecting me to be better but the competition is still very hard. I'll try to drive as fast as I can but not as much as I did in Portugal. I need to push but still be on the safe side. I can go into the rally having some experience of the surface but there are a few drivers from other local countries who will know what to expect. To compete on my home rally is a great pleasure and I’m looking forward to taking part in a World Rally Championship round in my own country.”

Ghislain de Mévius:
“I’m looking forward to getting back to the Trophy after a long break from Portugal. We tested last week in Poland and things went very well and gave me some confidence for the race. Sure the third place in Portugal was an amazing result for me for my first WRC event but still I need to improve the pace. On my side, I want to reduce the gap to the fastest drivers but still keep the safe approach I used in Portugal by doing no mistakes and having a clever race.”

Sander Pärn:
“The victory in Portugal was like a gift for me because I didn't expect to win there. I haven't been rallying in Poland before so it will be quite new and interesting challenge for me. In addition it will be a challenge to drive fast and at the same time not to damage the car in the ruts that we will face there. In spite of this, I think I will enjoy the conditions in Poland as they are similar to Estonia, roads are fast and the surface is soft. Between Rally Portugal and Rally Poland I have driven two Estonian Championship rallies and done some tests – so that has helped to develop the partnership with my new co-driver James Morgan during these events.” Nil Solans:
“I have a Spanish national championship rally where I will use my own Ford Fiesta R2 to prepare for Poland. I think it’s good to have a new rally for everyone because we will see how fast drivers can go without the experience. Basically, I want to finish the rally and take more experience, but it would be great if we can finish in the top-three. I’m learning a lot of things, but the most important one is that it’s not just the fastest guy who will win a championship, you have to be fast, reliable and you need a lot of experience.”

José Suárez:
“I will contest Rally Warminski, which takes place this weekend, in a Fiesta R2 as a test for Poland. I welcome new rallies as I like to discover new stages, and I feel good in new stages with only two passes on the recce. In Portugal our pace and speed was good, but it was just a little mistake which meant we weren’t able to take the win. In Poland our idea is to try and have the same pace and speed as Portugal but without any mistakes or problems. But also I need to focus and catch good points for the championship.”

Leo Urlichich:
“I’ve got a new co-driver so a lot of the preparation has been working together with recce practice and bringing him up to speed with my pace-note system. The stage roads seem to be very high speed and, compared to what we encountered in Portugal, not so technical. So I’m looking forward to learning how to drive the Fiesta R2 on this type of roads. We weren’t able to do any testing since Portugal, so as much as I would have loved to push, I must take it easy and get the experience. The competition is very strong. Our best gauge will be Nicolas Amiouni who is the only other driver without prior front wheel drive experience.”

Max Vatanen:
“My plan is to put my foot down and drive on the limit as much as it allows, but sometimes that can increase your chances of making a mistake. In Portugal so many people made mistakes, and I can't afford to make any more. The roads in Finland are very similar with the surface and the fact they are fast so I’m hoping to be a bit more familiar with the surface and conditions. In Poland all of us will more or less be in the same boat in terms of experience so that will be interesting.”

DMACK Hits Record Ahead Of Popular Poland

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:38 PM

DMACK is on track for an historic Rally Poland as it’s set to break the company record for supplying competitors on an FIA World Rally Championship event. For the first time in the firm’s history, over 30 of the 71 crews entered for the seventh round of the world series will run on DMACK tyres at Lotos Rally Poland next week.

In addition to equipping nearly half of the WRC 2 competitors and nine of the 14 R5 specification cars tackling the event, the rally is also round two of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy – which sees competitors from 11 different countries battling for victory.

Heading the challenge is Drive DMACK World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Jari Ketomaa. The pair have had mixed results this season but both are hoping to capitalise on the ultra-fast, smooth gravel roads – conditions which should suit their skills and experience.

The conditions in Poland should also suit DMACK’s rubber. The soft, sandy surfaces mean tyre wear is not expected to be an issue but the roads are likely to rut significantly and expose rocks for the second pass. The high-speed stages through the Polish countryside will demand high levels of performance and precision, allowing drivers to confidently cruise through the corners.

To cope with the soft surfaces, DMACK has nominated its DMG+2 soft compound S6 tyre which has already proven its speed in Portugal and Argentina earlier this season. Competitors can use a maximum of 28 tyres and also have the option to use a limited number of the alternative S3 hard compound should the conditions change.

Rally Poland last featured on the WRC calendar in 2009 so few of the current competitors will have experience of the roads. Only one stage remains from then and the level playing field resulting from this ‘new’ event means competition will be fierce and the pre-event recce vital.

The action is once again based in Miko?ajki – a small town set in the middle of the picturesque Masurian Lake District in the north-east of the country.

Event Details

The action kicks off with three stages on Thursday evening including a run through the Miko?ajki Arena super-special located beside the service park. Friday takes crews across the border to tackle two loops of two stages in Lithuania with just a remote service to split up the long day – putting even more emphasis on having a problem-free run.

Saturday is the biggest day of the weekend with a loop of five stages, including the longest of the rally, covering a huge 87km of timed competition. Four of the stages are repeated in the afternoon, with the day’s 161.58km topped off with another blast through the super-special. Sunday brings Rally Poland to a close with four more timed tests to the north-east of Miko?ajki.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:
“Rally Poland is a milestone event for us and supplying nearly half the field demonstrates just how far DMACK has come in only four years. We expect our soft tyre to be well suited to the conditions in Poland but the stages could be pretty demanding on the second pass. Ott and Jari both need a strong finish to help their WRC 2 championship bid so we are hoping the high speeds will help their challenge.”

Jari Ketomaa said:
“It will be interesting to go to a new country where not many people have experience of the event and roads. I’m confident that our tyres will be ideal for these soft roads so we expect a good performance from DMACK. The fast stages could be a little similar to some stages in Finland and Latvia where we have had wins before.”

Ott Tänak said:
“The plan is to go fast but not too fast and really to drive our own rally. It’s my first time in Poland so it’s a new event, new pace-notes and fast stages – it will be a big challenge. I’m looking forward to the fast roads, however, maybe a little like home in Estonia so I think it will be an enjoyable event.”

M-SPORT MOUNT MASURIAN DEFENCE

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:30 PM

As Rally Poland returns to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for the first time since 2009, the M-Sport World Rally Team will be looking to defend their previous form having claimed victory with Mikko Hirvonen five years previously.

The team’s past experience will prove vital when it comes to understanding the nature and character of the Polish stages, but with much of the route differing from the former encounter, the crews will need to muster all of their concentration and precision as they tackle what is effectively a brand-new event.

Based in the Masurian town of Mikolajki, the rally will also venture into neighbouring Lithuania for more high-speed kilometres. As well as being extremely fast, the sandy stages provide a slippery affair and the tree-lined route hides a multitude of obstacles which threaten to ensnare any crew who venture even slightly off line.

If that weren’t enough, the region’s unpredictable summer can play havoc with strategies. The threat of rain is ever present and shrewd tyre selections can make all the difference.

This is a rally in which the team need to apply all of their knowledge, skill and experience, but speed is arguably key. The fast gravel roads of Poland’s Lake District have been likened to those in Estonia and Finland, something which is sure to be an advantage to M-Sport’s resident Finns.

Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen know what it takes to succeed in Poland. Having won the event in 2009, the Scandinavian’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC will be a real contender for the podium.

The fast, flowing stages suit Hirvonen’s fearless style, and the well-honed pacenote system which he and Lehtinen have developed over their 10 year collaboration will provide the ideal base from which to demonstrate their speed.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans goes to Poland with his confidence high. The Welshman was pleased to see some encouraging progression at the previous outing in Sardinia and he will be looking to carry that momentum forward.

Most importantly, the fresh stages offer a level playing field from which Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt can compare their speed and style to their rivals; without the advantage of past experience.

With 90 per cent of the route new to all crews, next week’s event acts as an opportunity for the Welshman to determine more specific areas for improvement as he continues his development at the WRC’s highest league.

Mikko Hirvonen said:

“This is an event that I really enjoy and we won in 2009 so I’m looking forward to returning to Poland next week. We have a good idea of what to expect in terms of the conditions, but the stages themselves will be almost completely new.

“Historically, I’ve always felt quite comfortable at new events so we’ll be looking to be in the fight for the top positions. Jarmo [Lehtinen, co-driver] and I will be making new notes for most of the stages, but that doesn’t really faze me as I’ve always been confident in our ability to do that.

“The stages are very fast and in some ways you could compare them to those in Finland, but the surface is completely different. In Finland the gravel is quite hard, but in Poland it’s really soft and sandy which means that they can become fairly rutted for the second pass.

“The competition will be tough, but I’m feeling really good ahead of this event and looking forward to bringing home what will hopefully be a strong result for the team.”

Elfyn Evans said:
“This is another new event for me, but the difference is that it will be new to a lot of other crews too. It offers something of a level playing field – certainly more so than any other event this year.

“For me, the first pass will just be about checking the notes in what is likely to be a very fast rally. But if the feeling is right, it would be nice to pay a bit more attention to the times over the second loop and really concentrate on improving the driving technique.

“From what I’ve heard, the stages are all really high-speed and the soft, sandy surface means that they could become quite rutted for the second pass. I’ll be sure to speak with Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jarmo [Lehtinen] on the event to get their thoughts on the stages and how best to tackle them. Their experience and advice has been a real benefit for the new events and I’m sure it will come into play again next week.

“This is a new rally so we need to finish and gain the experience that is so vital at this level, but we also need to keep learning and developing. It’s all about finding the right balance and that is what will ultimately help me reach my goals.”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS

M-Sport’s range of award-winning rally cars has once again dominated the entry list. With 39 of the 71 competitors opting for the Ford Fiesta, a record-breaking 55 per cent of the field will line up behind the wheel of M-Sport machinery – a statistic that sees Ford’s presence more than double that of the next most popular manufacturer.

Seven Fiesta RS WRCs have been entered. Alongside Hirvonen, Evans and Robert Kubica, M-Sport will also run the Fiesta RS WRC of Henning Solberg who makes a welcome return following a string of standout performances on gravel.

In the WRC2 category, M-Sport can boast an impressive 65 per cent of the field with the Ford Fiesta R5 proving to be the model of choice. Being run by M-Sport in identical Fiesta R5s are Peruvian Nicolás Fuchs and Frenchman Bryan Bouffier.

CITROËN VENTURES INTO NEW TERRITORY

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:27 PM

CITROËN AND RALLY POLAND: A LONG HISTORY

Rally Poland is the second oldest road race still held today. Created a few years after Monte-Carlo, it is celebrating its 71st anniversary in 2014. Between 1938 and 1956, Polish crews secured four category wins in Citroën cars. When the Manufacturers’ World Championship was set up in 1973, Rally Poland was part of the programme. A second appearance in 2009 saw another Citroën finish on the podium as Dani Sordo and Marc Marti finished as runners-up in their C4 WRC.

FAIRLY UNUSUAL TYPES OF ROADS

In addition to only featuring sporadically on the WRC calendar, Rally Poland also offers a profoundly different challenge to the other rounds in terms of the road surface. “We tend to think of the stages as being close in style to those in Finland,” explained Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. ”But there are many other aspects. The ground is especially soft. The racing line becomes rutted and lines form pretty quickly. And there aren’t as many jumps. As it is an event that is back on the calendar after a five-year absence, experience will be less significant than on other rounds.”

The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is already in Poland this weekend to run test sessions. This will give Didier Clément, Chief Operations Engineer for the DS3 WRCs, the opportunity to assess how the road surface changes as more cars come through the stages: “The aim is to find solutions so that we can provide our drivers with a car that inspires confidence. The stages are so quick that the car has to be particularly precise. We have been working with the shock absorber diagrams and the combination of springs and anti-roll bars to get the results we’re after.”

The road surface will also force the team to alter the set-up of the DS3 WRC at each service: “There are really two distinct parts; the roads will be flowing and fast on the first runs and very rutted on the second runs. Each time, we’ll have to adjust the ride height to avoid the car from scraping too much on the ruts. Where there are lines, the drivers will have to make use of them and manage not to get carried away. They’ll need to drive aggressively to get out of the ruts if they feel it is necessary. But it never comes easily.”

MADS ØSTBERG UPS THE PACE

Runner-up in Sardinia, Mads Østberg has now finished on the podium three times in his last five outings. Increasingly comfortable in the Citroën DS3 WRC, he will be tackling a completely different surface in Poland: ”I feel full of confidence. We’re on a positive trend. I feel very good in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and we are making progress all the time.”

The Norwegian first competed in this rally in 2009, the last time the WRC came to Poland: ”I have some very good memories of the rally, even it wasn’t easy. I really like fast rallies. That seems to be the main feature of this race. I think the average speeds will be even higher than in Finland. The gravel is a bit softer and there are a lot fewer jumps. Some sections are pretty narrow, but you have to keep as much speed as possible.”

As has been the case all season, Mads starts the rally with the same goal of finishing on the podium: “For the time being, we need to focus on testing, which will take place just before recce starts. It will definitely be very intense because we’ll have to get to grips with the car on these kinds of roads. The gaps will very undoubtedly be very narrow and there’ll be plenty of contenders. We’ll have to push from the word go on the first stage to get among the front-runners!”

GOAL REMAINS THE SAME FOR KRIS MEEKE

Although he wasn’t here in 2009, Kris Meeke has competed at Rally Poland once before. Back in 2006, he enjoyed his first outing in the Citroën C2-R2. “It was a great experience; it was part of the promotion campaign for the car. Winning the two-wheel drive category is still an excellent memory,” recalled Kris.

Unlike the earlier rounds of the championship, Kris Meeke won’t suffer as much through his lack of knowledge of the event: “The stages are relatively new to everyone. When you’re driving as quickly as we will be doing here, you need to pay even more attention during recce.”

Currently seventh in the drivers’ championship, with two podium finishes, Kris Meeke is not putting himself under pressure to get a particular result: “We used Rally Sardinia to rack up a few more miles in the car. Once again, we’ll be applying the same strategy. There is no question of taking any unnecessary risks. I hope I can get through the rally without any mistakes and without any problems. If we manage that, we should be on the pace and the result will take care of itself!”

IN POLAND AND LITHUANIA

As was the case five years ago when Rally Poland last featured on the WRC calendar, this year’s event is based in Mikolajki. The shakedown will start on Thursday morning at 8.00am with two mandatory runs for each crew. The ceremonial start will be held in the city centre in the early afternoon. The action then kicks off with two stages (Milki 14.54km – 4.40pm and Kruklanki 17.24km – 5.30pm), before the crews head back to the service park and take on a super special stage held after dark.

Friday will be partly dedicated to Lithuania. The crews will leave parc ferme at 7.00am and head east. After an opening test in Wieliczki (12.89km – 9.10am), they will cross the border into Lithuania for two stages (Kapciamiestis 26.61km – 11.25am/2.40pm and Margionys 17.97km – 12.30pm/3.45pm), each contested twice. A remote fifteen-minute service will be held between the first and second loops in Druskininkai. On their way back to the base, the crews will tackle the Wieliczki test again at 7.15pm before a second super special stage at the Mikolajki Arena at 10.00pm. After a 45-minute service, the cars will be driven into parc ferme for the night at 11.10pm.

Saturday’s leg will serve up the longest day with 157 kilometres of timed stages through the forests and along the lakes of Warmia and Mazury. The day kicks off at 7.15am with a loop of five stages that will take competitors close to the Russian border with Chmielewo (6.75km – 8.00am), Stare Juchy (14.41km – 9.05am), Babki (15.76km – 10.35am), Goldap (35.17km – 11.35am) and Baranowo (14.90km – 2.05pm).

A thirty-minute service period will split the day into two before a second run on the first four stages. En route back to Mikolajki, Baranowo will be avoided in favour of a third run on the Mikolajki super special stage, once again held at 10.00pm.

Sunday’s action begins at 7.00am, as crews tackle stages covered earlier in the rally. Thursday’s two stages will be repeated (Milki 14.54km – 8.15am and Kruklanki 17.24km – 9.03am) before the crews complete one final run on the Mikolajki Arena super special stage (2.50km – 11.02am), this time in daylight, and the Baranowo Power Stage (14.90km – 12.05am), taken from Saturday’s programme.

The rally is scheduled to finish at the Mikolajki Arena on Sunday, 29 June from 2.00pm.

TAKE PART IN THE CITROËN RACING BY FANS FILM!

At this year’s Rally Poland, Citroën Racing is offering fans the opportunity to share video footage that they film using digital equipment (cameras, smartphones, etc.).

By going to http://tiny.cc/citroenracingbyfans, each fan can post their own videos, which may be used to create the film of Rally Poland.

At the end of the rally, the best videos will be selected to produce the Citroën Racing by Fans film. Each author will be mentioned in the credits and gifts will be sent to the best contributors!

PIRELLI SCORPION TYRE BACK IN ACTION IN POLAND

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:25 PM

The renowned Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyre heads to the Masurian region in Poland next week, for round seven of the World Rally Championship from June 26-29. The Italian tyre firm will supply four competitors on the all-gravel event, which returns to the WRC this year for the first time since 2009, when Mikko Hirvonen won on Pirelli tyres.

Pirelli is in the first season of its WRC return this year, with the focus on customer competition, particularly in the feeder WRC2 series. With six rounds gone, Pirelli drivers Yuriy Protasov and Lorenzo Bertelli are first and second in the championship. However, as drivers only count a maximum of seven scores, neither Protasov nor Bertelli are competing. Pirelli also leads the WRC2 Production Championship courtesy of Max Rendina, who will be present in Poland.

Pirelli drivers in Poland
The Pirelli drivers contesting Rally Poland are:

    33 Max Rendina/Mario Pizzuti (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) ?
    38 Bernardo Sousa/Hugo Magalhaes (Ford Fiesta RRC)
    40 Jordan Serderidis/Frederic Miclotte (Ford Fiesta R5)
    88 Dainius Matijosaitis/Mindaugas Cepulis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
The tyres available
Pirelli will supply its soft compound Scorpion XR7 tyres for cool and damp conditions, plus the option Scorpion XR5, which comes in a harder compound for warmer temperatures and tougher roads.

The XR pattern’s internal structure means that the tyre is resistant to rocks and other impacts, while the sidewall is also reinforced to protect against punctures, a constant menace when the demanding Polish stages are run for a second time. The new XR is a symmetrical (non-directional) tyre, which makes each tyre interchangeable on either side of the car: a key advantage when it comes to strategy.

The rules
One prime compound is nominated per gravel event (the soft compound in Poland) with limited quantities of a harder option compound also available in case of unexpected warmer weather. ?WRC2 drivers have an allocation of 28 tyres in total, with 16 sets of the option tyre. ?The soft compound XR7 is the prime nomination, with the harder XR5 available as the option.

Quotes
Matteo Braga, Pirelli senior engineer:
“This year, Rally Poland is essentially two rallies in one: we have part of the event in Lithuania, where the character of the roads is a little bit different to how it is in Poland. But we’re confident in the performance of our tyres in all types of conditions, as our strong performance in the WRC2 championship so far this year has shown. The XR Scorpion tyre is completely new this year, designed very much to combine durability with speed. The structure has been reinforced, which will allow our latest tyre to combat the sharp rocks that are a common characteristic of this event, while the squarer profile improves road holding and grip, even at high speeds.”

HOMEWARD BOUND - KUBICA PREPARES FOR POLAND

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:23 PM

RK M-Sport World Rally Team’s Robert Kubica will be the star of the show as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to his native Poland next week. As one of the country’s most respected and admired sportsmen, the Formula One race winner will be in high demand as he powers his Ford Fiesta RS WRC through the gravel tracks of the Polish Lake District.

The Polish fixture last formed a part of the WRC in 2009 when Robert’s fellow M-Sport driver, Mikko Hirvonen, claimed the sought-after victory. Established in 1921, the rally is one of the oldest in the world and never fails to deliver an exciting and adrenaline-fuelled event.

Similar to the iconic stages of Rally Finland, Poland’s fast gravel roads see the rally cars reach maximum speed as they fly through the region’s breath-taking landscape. But the picturesque setting hides a daunting task.

Unexpected obstacles linger on the inside line, ready to catch out the unfortunate. Crews will need to have their wits about them as they navigate the tricky speed tests and a good recce is perhaps more vital than anywhere else on the calendar. Robert and his fellow countryman and co-driver Maciek Szczepaniak go into their home event with their confidence high. Following a solid finish in Argentina, the Poles went on to up their pace in Sardinia.

Commenting on how much he had enjoyed the loose-surface challenge of the Italian stages, Kubica will be looking for a similar, incident-free event in Poland and – with the Polish fans behind him – the Lotos, Grupa Azoty and Michelin supported driver will have all the tools he needs to deliver another progressive performance in front of the home crowd.

In appreciation of the huge support he receives in his native Poland, the 29-year-old will also be sporting a special livery for his national event. Embracing all things Polish, Kubica’s Fiesta RS WRC will be adorned with an eye-catching red and white design.

Robert Kubica said:
“Competing in my homeland will be something very special, but on the other hand – strange as it sounds – it will be a completely new rally for me. I contested Rally Poland last year, but in this year’s edition not even 100 metres will be same and my approach will be the same as it was for the other new events.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing all the Polish fans. This will be one of the country’s sporting highlights and I think there are many rally fans in Poland so it is nice that we have this opportunity – with the Polish Federation – to do this event.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of support for the Polish drivers, but I just want to do a good rally and finish well without making any mistakes. I know that if I get to the finish and am happy with my driving then it will be a good rally. This is the most important thing for me and this is what I am looking for.

“Talking about the results, I won’t be paying too much attention to that. The most important thing is to learn and enjoy. If I finish the last stage and I am happy with what I did behind the wheel, it will be the best result for me and bring a lot of satisfaction.

“As this is my home event, I thought it would be nice to show the Polish national colours on my Fiesta RS WRC, and so that is what we have decided to do. Together with our partners, we have come up with a one-off design for this special event.”

More than 1 in 2 choose Ford Fiesta for Rally Poland fordofeurope

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:06 PM

More than half the competitors at next week’s Rally Poland (26 - 29 June), round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship, will be at the wheel of specially-built Ford Fiesta rally cars.

Ford dominates the entry list for the gravel rally with 39 privately-entered teams out of 71 opting for Fiesta – almost 55 per cent of the total field and more than twice the number aligned to the next highest manufacturer. The figures are a record for Fiesta in world Seven Fiesta World Rally Cars are listed in the headline category. They include two cars from the M-Sport World Rally Team for Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans and one from the RK M-Sport World Rally Team for ex-F1 driver and Polish superstar Robert Kubica.

In the WRC 2 support category, there are eight new-generation Fiesta R5 cars entered, along with two Fiesta Regional Rally Cars and a Fiesta S2000. Fiesta has won all six Twelve Fiesta R2 cars will compete in the DMACK Fiesta Trophy, a support series run by Ford’s rally partner, M-Sport, in conjunction with tyre supplier DMACK. A further nine Fiestas are making one-off appearances in the hands of drivers from various countries, including France, Spain and Holland.

The figures for Poland exceed those of Rally de Portugal earlier in the season when 49 per cent of the entry opted to drive Fiesta.

“We’re delighted so many private teams choose Fiesta in which to compete at rallying’s highest level,” said Gerard Quinn, head of Ford Racing in Europe. “It’s a testimony to Fiesta’s strength, speed and reliability that more than half the competitors have chosen Ford when they have such a wide range of manufacturers from which to choose.

“Our continued technical collaboration with M-Sport has ensured private teams have access to Fiesta and its remarkable technology at all levels – from grass roots to the headline World Rally Car category. The latest success of this partnership is the EcoBoost-powered Fiesta R5, which dominates the WRC 2 entries,” he added.

Rally Poland is based in Mikolajki and competitors will tackle 24 high-speed special stages covering 362.48km in Poland and Lithuania during four days of action.

TWELVE JUNIORS TO COMPETE IN POLAND

Posted: June 25, 2014 12:00 PM

Far from the demanding, rough gravel roads in Portugal at the opening rally of the season, Poland and Lithuania promise to provide the FIA Junior WRC crews with a much faster course.

“The first round was very intense,” emphasized Marek Nawarecki, Customer Racing Manager at Citroën Racing. “We expect it to be a very close battle between the crews again in Poland. It’s a really great event, a fast and technical rally. Some of the drivers taking part already have some experience on the roads in the region. The same goes for Citroën Racing’s technical teams, since the event has been on the national Citroën Racing Trophy calendar for the last few years. It also worth noting that there is a wide variety of nationalities among the drivers involved the championship.”

Winner in Portugal, the Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre continued to impress in April. After producing a performance of great maturity in the Algarve, he will be expected to do well at a rally in which he competed last season.

After taking the other podium spots in Portugal, Christian Riedemann and Martin Koci will obviously be his main rivals, although they don’t possess the same experience. Long-time leader of the opening round of the season, Alastair Fisher has already shown that he can be quick on World Championship roads. This second event will also give him the chance to open his account for the season.

Like Fisher, Simone Campedelli ended the first rally of the calendar with five stage wins. However, having to rejoin under Rally 2 rules prevented him from winning.

The only Polish driver taking part in the Junior WRC, Aron Domzala may be able to use his local knowledge. Having competed twice before in Rally Poland, he also took part in rounds of the Lithuanian championship before making his debut in the JWRC. Another driver with experience in Mikolajki is the Hungarian Kornel Lukacs, who has competed twice in this event. In 2012, he even grabbed fifth place in his category in a Citroën DS3 R3. Like him, the Australian Molly Taylor has competed here before in a Citroën DS3 R3. She grabbed a podium finish in the Polish Citroën Racing Trophy last year.

With two drivers picking up points in Portugal (Stéphane Lefebvre and Quentin Giordano), France leads the standings in the Nations Trophy. It is followed by Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy, Romania, the Czech Republic, Australia and Cyprus.

WRC3 champion and winner of the Citroën Top Driver last season in a Citroën DS3 R3, Sébastien Chardonnet is this year competing in the WRC2. In his first outing in the Citroën DS3 R5, he finished second at Rally Sardegna Italia. Alongside co-driver Thibault de la Haye, he will be able to draw on this experience to keep improving in Poland.

Entry List

Posted: June 6, 2014 9:28 AM

Website / Rally Guide / Details

Posted: March 7, 2014 9:22 AM






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