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Poland (Rajd Polski) - 1-3 Jul 16

Posted: July 3, 2016 4:00 AM - 3537 Hits

Round 7 - 2016 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Poland 2016) Also available at: rally-base results
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Poland (Rajd Polski)

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
SS1 Thu - 18:08 (Superspecial)
SS2 Fri - 06:15
SS11 Sat - 08:55
SS18 Sun - 07:20

Breen buckles up for his second drive with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT in 2016.

Posted: June 29, 2016 9:21 AM

It seems like an eternity since Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin thrilled during their impressive debut aboard the Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen DS3 WRC in Sweden last February. Since then not only has Craig taken his second successive win on the Circuit of Ireland rally, but he has also been a key player during Citroen’s development work alongside Kris Meeke ahead of the 2017 car regulation changes. Next weekend Rally Poland (June 30th – July 3rd) will see Craig return to his place within the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team. Having taken it in turns to compete for the team since the start of the season, Craig and Scott will line up for the first time at the same event with their team mates Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau for what will be one of the most anticipated events of the season. Sometimes described like “Rally Finland without the jumps”, the stages are very fast, and with no margin for error are very unforgiving.

Having only competed in Poland once before using an S2000 car, atrocious weather conditions and completely different stages to the last time Craig competed in 2013 means that pre event testing work on Monday will be crucial if Craig and Scott are to push the PH Motorsport run Abu Dhabi Total WRT DS3 WRC enough to be able to compete with their more match fit rivals at this midway point in the championship.

Rally Poland features the now regular itinerary of an 8am Thursday shakedown stage to iron out any issues before a ceremonial start kicks off proceedings that evening. With two long legs on Friday and Saturday a short final day on Sunday will draw the event to a close back where the weekend started in Mikolajki at 2pm.

Before leaving for Poland Craig said
“It’s been a long break since Rally Sweden and although I’ve kept myself busy winning in the ERC at the Circuit of Ireland, and testing for the 2017 WRC with Citroën Racing’s development team I’m pleased to be back racing in a round of the WRC! I don’t have a lot of experience in the car on gravel so I’ll need time to build up some confidence. The trees are so close to the road that the slightest error can be extremely costly! “


Posted: June 29, 2016 9:16 AM

M-Sport World Rally Team have their sights firmly set on challenging for another FIA World Rally Championship podium this week as Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli take their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRCs to the ultra-quick stages of Rally Poland.

Based in the Masurian Lake District, the event is famed for its speed. As one of the fastest events on the calendar, average speeds exceed 120 kilometres per hour and the crews will need to be quick out of the blocks if they are to challenge for the top positions.

So as to be best prepared for the increase in pace, Østberg and Camilli both conducted a comprehensive pre-event test in the Orzysz and Pasym regions last week.

Growing accustomed to the incredible speed on roads similar to those they’ll encounter later this week, the pairing also worked on optimising set-ups for the second pass where the soft nature of the Polish roads can often provide a stark contrast to the opening loop.

But it’s not just the speed and variation that the crews will need to keep on top of. Much of the route is lined with high grasses that limit visibility and conceal obstacles on the approach to corners.

Rein in your speed and you risk being left behind, but plough flat-out into the unknown and you risk bringing your rally to a premature end. A thorough reconnaissance and precise pacenotes are vital and the crews will need to be full of confidence from very first speed test.

Østberg certainly has confidence on his side. Feeling at one with his Fiesta RS WRC, the downshift worries which had hindered him at the start of the season are long gone and the Norwegian was setting stage-winning pace last time out in Sardinia.

The Polish fixture hasn’t been kind to him in the past, but with his confidence high and co-driver Ola Fløene at his side, Østberg will be looking to put that right. Fløene certainly knows what it takes to conquer the Polish roads having finished on the podium at the previous two encounters.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas will be discovering the Polish stages for the very first time. The pairing have shown impressive progress over the past three events, but they’ll be venturing into the unknown this week.

Keen to discover the level required to contest these ultra-quick stages, the pairing will use the event to continue their development. Yet, as recent history has proven, the Frenchmen can never be discounted to spring a surprise or two and their pre-event test has seen them well placed ahead of the event.

Also returning to the world stage and pursuing the top WRC 2 positions is Elfyn Evans and co-driver Craig Parry – making a welcome return to the wheel of their M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 Evo.

Currently leading the WRC 2 standings, the pairing will be looking to strengthen their hold on the support series with another solid victory.

It’s a busy time for the Welshmen as they contest three events in just three weeks, but their goals remain the same and Evans will be looking to set the pace through Poland’s incredibly fast stages.


Mads Østberg said:
“After a string of relatively low-speed events, it’s easy to forget how fast the roads are in Poland – but we were quickly reminded of that during our pre-event test! The speed really is incredible and it is so much fun to drive.

“The test went well and we can’t wait to get out on the stages. This event hasn’t been too kind to me in the past, but the speed has been there and we’re feeling confident and well prepared this year.

“The podium is always our aim, and we’ll be aiming to challenge for the top positions again this week. There’ll be a lot of strong competition and the stages aren’t without their obstacles, but we’re feeling good and ready to give it our all. If everything goes to plan, I see no reason why we can’t be setting stage-winning pace once again.”

Éric Camilli said:
“This will be my first time at Rally Poland. It won’t be an easy event, and there will be a lot to discover, but we’re really looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“We got a taste of what to expect during our pre-event test and the roads are fast, really fast! I think they suit my driving style, but we need to play the clever game this year and focus on gaining as much experience as possible for the future.

“Having never competed here before, it will be important for us to increase our knowledge and remain focused on the job in hand – which is to continue our development and strengthen our understanding of everything that is required to compete at this level.

“We’ll focus on our own rally, but if the feeling is there, we’ll certainly push on to see what’s possible.”

Elfyn Evans said:
“It’s going to be a busy few weeks for myself and Craig, but we’re really looking forward to being back on the world stage. Portugal seems like a long time ago now, so we’re looking forward to Poland and the incredibly fast stages that this event has to offer.

“One thing is for certain, Poland is fast, and we’ll need to get up to speed straight out of the blocks. The goal is the same wherever we are, and we’ll be aiming to take three victories over these three weekends.

“The competition looks strong in Poland, but if everything goes to plan I see no reason why we can’t rack up our third WRC 2 win of the year – that’s certainly the target.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Rally Poland is a highlight. The roads are incredibly fast and the crews get a real adrenaline boost from delivering the perfect stage. Not surprisingly, all of the M-Sport crews are really looking forward to this week’s event.

“One thing you need to do well here is confidence, and it seems as though Mads is full of that at the moment. He had a great time on the pre-event test and, after his stage-winning performance in Sardinia, he’s in a really positive mood. We’ll be hoping to see him and Ola challenge for the podium, and I see no reason why they can’t achieve that.

“Eric and Ben have shown some fantastic progression over the last couple of events, but this will be something totally different for them. Neither of them have any prior experience of Rally Poland, so they will use the weekend to get accustomed to the level that is required to conquer these fast stages. That said, Éric’s precise driving style is perfectly suited to these kinds of roads so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him spring another surprise or two!

“Elfyn is also making a return to the WRC 2 championship this week. It’s a busy few weeks for him and Craig as they contest three events in three weeks, but as always, their goal will be to secure the victory – something they and the Fiesta R5 Evo are certainly capable of.”

Breen versus Lefebvre Web Version Breen versus Lefebvre

Posted: June 29, 2016 8:50 AM

Young hot-shots Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre go head-to-head at the same event for the first time in Poland this week aiming to make their case for a place in Citroën’s factory team next season.

Both have the chance to impress team boss Yves Matton at PZM 73rd Rally Poland when they drive for Citroën’s satellite Abu Dhabi Total team in the four-day event, round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship.

With Kris Meeke assured of a 2017 seat and tackling only a part-time programme as he leads the development of Citroën’s new World Rally Car, the spotlight is on who will partner the Northern Irishman next year.

Irishman Breen and Frenchman Lefebvre have a great opportunity courtesy of several outings in a DS 3 World Rally Car with the Abu Dhabi squad. Lefebvre laid down a marker with fifth place at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo while Breen finished eighth in Sweden.

Both tested in Poland on Monday to fine-tune their preparations for the lightning-quick gravel speed tests near Mikolajki, 220km north of Warsaw.

“I like the type of fast stages you get here,” said 24-year-old Lefebvre, who won the Junior WRC category in Poland two years ago. “I think I’ll need a bit of time to adjust to the conditions, given that I’ve never competed here in a World Rally Car.

“I’m pleased to team up with Craig. Earlier in the season Kris was a yardstick for me and it was good to measure myself against him. This weekend, we’ll have to work together but I think that will help us to make progress from a technical point of view.”

Breen is eager to return to WRC competition for the first time since Sweden in February.

“I’ve kept myself busy, taking part in testing for the 2017 WRC. It was a fantastic opportunity to work with Citroën Racing’s development team but I’m pleased to be back racing in a round of the WRC,” said Breen who has competed in Poland just once.

“I don’t have a lot of experience in the car on gravel so I’ll need time to build up some. Stéphane and I are competing together for the first time, so I hope we can work well.”

The rally starts in Mikolajki on Thursday evening and competitors face 22 special stages covering 306.10km before Sunday afternoon’s finish.


Posted: June 29, 2016 6:21 AM

Poland’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship gets underway in Mikolajki on Thursday afternoon. Sixty-seven crews face the first of 21 special stages on Thursday evening on an event that finishes in Mikolajki on Sunday afternoon.

The Polish event was included the WRC calendar for the first time in 1973 and then returned in 2009. Of the 59 special stages that have been run in the WRC since Poland’s return - including two in Lithuania in 2014 - three-time World Champion and top seed Sébastien Ogier has won 19 to Jari-Matti Latvala’s nine.

Five drivers have taken part in the three previous editions of the event since 2009. All three Volkswagen drivers, Ogier, Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, in addition to Hyundai’s Dani Sordo and M-Sport’s Mads Østberg.

The M-Sport World Rally Team has left nothing to chance in its quest for honours in Poland. Norwegian Østberg and Frenchman Eric Camilli carried out a comprehensive test in the Orzysz and Pasym regions last week and Camilli and navigator Benjamin Veillas will be hoping that helps them get the ideal set-up for their Polish debut.

Østberg is keen to return to high-speed stages after several slower events, but admits that the rally has not been kind to him in the past. “My speed has been there and we are well prepared this year. The podium is always the aim, but the stages are not without their obstacles. I see no reason why we can’t be setting stage-winning pace.”

The Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team has entered two young drivers in Poland, with Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen flying the flag for the Citroën brand in their development year. Both drivers took part in physical training sessions at the start of the week and a test session on Monday and PH Sport technicians have used data collected from 2014 and 2015 to help them arrive at the correct set-up for the stages.

“It’s been a long time since Rally Sweden, but I kept myself busy by winning the Circuit of Ireland in the ERC and taking part in testing for the 2017 WRC,” said Breen. “I only competed here once before, back in 2013, as part of the European Rally Championship. It rained the whole weekend and many stages were cancelled, so I didn’t really get anything out of it. The trees are so close to the road that the slightest error can be extremely costly.”

WRC 2 has been an exciting battleground so far this season, despite the fact that Welshman Elfyn Evans won the opening two rounds in Monte Carlo and Sweden in his Ford Fiesta and appeared to be running away with the championship.

His rivals have since regrouped, with Finland’s talented Teemu Suninen winning the category in Mexico and Sardinia, Peruvian driver Nicholas Fuchs snatching maximum points in Argentina and Pontus Tidemand claiming a full haul in Portugal.

It means that Evans arrives in Mikolajki with 62 points and is closely followed by Fuchs on 57, Suninen on 50, Tidemand on 43 and Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek on 42 and determined to put on a good performance in front of his home fans.

Thursday’s hectic timetable gets underway with the traditional 3.38km shakedown stage at Lubiewo from 08.00hrs. This marks the last opportunity for teams to finalise their car’s set-up for the high-speed special stages before the ceremonial start takes centre stage in Mikolajki’s main square from 16.00hrs.

The competitive action gets underway at 19.08hrs on Thursday evening with the first of three runs this weekend through the popular 2.5km Mikolajki Arena special stage. Ogier holds the record for the fastest time on this timed test, set on July 2nd, 2015, with a time of 1min 43.9sec. Poland’s former Formula One star Robert Kubica has the second quickest time to his name.

The bulk of the action then takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Warmia and Mazuria areas over a total competitive distance of 306.19km.

Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre to represent Abu Dhabi Total WRT in Poland

Posted: June 24, 2016 6:03 PM

Winners of Rally de Portugal with Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT returns to the WRC in Poland. Having taken it in turns to compete for the team since the start of the season, the young crews of Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau will line up at the same event for the first time.

One of the most popular events of the season, Rally Poland is the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team’s fourth outing of the year, after Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Portugal. Sometimes described like “Rally Finland without the jumps”, the stages through the forests and plains of Warmia-Mazury are very quick. In 2015, the winner completed the event at an average speed of over 120kph!

For this rally, the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team is going for youth by entering two crews still looking for their first WRC podium finish. After competing at Monte-Carlo and Portugal, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau will team up with Craig Breen and Scott Martin in Sweden.

In order to prepare as effectively as possible for this round, both drivers took part in special physical training sessions at the start of the week. Meanwhile, the PH Sport engineers, who run the cars, used the data collected in 2014 and 2015 to define the right set-up for the specific features of the Polish course. On Monday, Stéphane and Craig will take part in a test day in their race cars. The information gathered during the test will help them to fine tune the set-up before the start of the event.

Rally Poland features a fairly classic itinerary, with two long legs on Friday and Saturday, followed by a short final day on Sunday. Given their positions in the World Championship standings, Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen will start in eleventh and thirteenth positions respectively on the first two days. Depending on the road conditions, their place in the running order is just as likely to prove to be an advantage as a disadvantage!


Stéphane Lefebvre (#7):
“I like Rally Poland and the type of fast stages you get here. A couple of years ago, I won this round in the FIA Junior WRC. And last year, I was fighting for the WRC2 lead when I had to retire due to a mechanical problem. This year, I think that I’ll need a bit of time to adjust to the conditions, given that I have never competed here in a World Rally Car. My aim will be to quickly get back to the same performance level that I had in Portugal. Depending on the weather, the dust and sweeping will be more or less significant. If it rains, the sandy roads will form ruts and it will become very difficult to race. I’m pleased to team up with Craig. Earlier in the season, Kris was a yardstick for me, and it was good to measure myself against him. This weekend, we’ll have to work together but I think that will help us to make progress from a technical point of view. Monday’s test session will be important, especially after spending the weekend competing on tarmac at Rallye d’Ypres!”

Craig Breen (#8):
“It’s been a long break since Rally Sweden! I’ve kept myself busy, however, winning in the ERC at the Circuit of Ireland, and taking part in testing for the 2017 WRC. It was a fantastic opportunity to work with Citroën Racing’s development team. But I’m pleased to be back racing in a round of the WRC! I have only competed at Rally Poland once before, back in 2013 as part of the European Rally Championship. It rained throughout the weekend and many stages were cancelled, so I didn’t really get anything out of it. I don’t have a lot of experience in the car on gravel so I’ll need time to build up some confidence. The trees are so close to the road that the slightest error can be extremely costly! The circumstances are such that Stéphane and I are competing together for the first time. I hope we can work well together and we manage to bring home a good result for the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team.”


Posted: June 24, 2016 6:02 PM

After a closely contested opening round won by Simone Tempestini, the FIA Junior WRC resumes at Rally Poland. The Italian’s rivals will already be looking to get even, as the championship returns to the venue of his only win in 2015!

All competing in strictly identical DS 3 R3-MAXs, ten crews will be fighting it out for the FIA Junior WRC honours at Rally Poland. Frédéric Hauswald is the only driver to miss the event. Although he was unable to put together the funding for this round, the Alsace-based driver hopes to be back at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland.

After the rough gravel roads in the north of Portugal, the drivers will be tackling the lightning fast stages of the Mikolajki region. Deep ruts will form as more and more four-wheel drive cars complete the stages, providing tricky conditions for the drivers and in all likelihood leading to mistakes… The crews that manage to find the right balance between pushing and defending in order to look after their car will inevitably finish high up the standings!

As regards the favourites, obviously you have to first consider those who did well in Portugal. Simone Tempestini and Martin Koci fought each other for the win throughout the weekend, whilst Terry Folb was just behind, ready to pounce on a mistake from either of the top two. All three drivers will be looking to build on their good start to the season and confirm their status as title challengers. Many observers have Tempestini down as the favourite, given that he won here last year. But Martin Koci enjoyed a real confidence boost in claiming the ‘two-wheel drive’ category win at Rally Hustopece, in the Czech rally championship.

Fast in Portugal but held up by several punctures, Ole Christian Veiby will be aiming to make up lost ground. Runner-up in the 2015 championship, the young Norwegian didn’t compete here last year and will therefore need to make up for a lack of experience.

The same goes for Vincent Dubert. Winner of the Citroën Racing Trophy, the Frenchman is learning about world rallying this year as part of a programme funded by Citroën Racing and its partners, Total and Michelin. After collecting the points for fourth place in Portugal, he will be aiming to to reduce the gap to the leading drivers.

Another Frenchman enjoying his first experience of the WRC, Romain Martel also made a successful start to the season by making it to the end of his first world rally without having to rejoin under Rally2 rules. He will need to repeat the trick here in order to keep adding to his experience on gravel.

One of the favourites for the title, Andrea Crugnola simply has to score heavily this weekend to make up for his disappointing showing – ninth place – in the opening round. Having gone off in Portugal, Mohamed Al Mutawaa, Thilo Himmel and Lukasz Pieniazek will equally be looking to record a good result this time out.

The only Polish driver in the competition, Lukasz Pieniazek will obviously be in the limelight at his home round. Fresh from taking part the Rallye d’Ypres this weekend in the European Rally Championship, the Warsaw driver can expect to be up to speed immediately!


Reigning FIA Junior WRC champions, Quentin Gilbert and Renaud Jamoul will contest their fourth rally of the season in the DS 3 R5 prepared by DG Sport. Following their podium finish in Monte-Carlo, they had a more difficult time of it in Portugal (retirement) and Sardinia (10th). In Poland, the goal will be to keep out of trouble and get back among the frontrunners.

Three other DS 3 R5s have been entered in the WRC2 class at this rally, with Yoann Bonato/Denis Giraudet, Emil Bergkvist/Joakim Sjoberg and Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais all taking part. An FIA Junior WRC competitor last year, the young Corsican finished sixth in the WRC2 in Sardinia on his debut outing in the DS 3 R5.

Osian’s world championship season ready for fast-forward…

Posted: June 24, 2016 6:01 PM

World Rally Championship class-leading Welshman Osian Pryce stands on the verge of landing the biggest prize of his life at next week’s Rally Poland.

Pryce won the opening round of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy – the World Rally Championship’s most valuable support series – in Portugal last month and knows a repeat result on round two will bag him two factory WRC2 drives in next year’s world championship.

This year’s five-round DDFT series has been split into three scoring opportunities with the driver taking the most points from Portugal and Poland, Poland and Finland, Germany and Spain winning two drives in next year’s official WRC feeder category.

A stunning Rally of Portugal win means a repeat result at Rally Poland will guarantee Osian and co-driver Dale Furniss their first two professional drives in the world championship.

The good news for the 23-year-old from Machynlleth is that he has experience of next week’s terrain. He competed in Poland last year, dominating his class until an alternator problem robbed him of the victory on the final day.

“Next week is a very, very big deal for Dale and I,” said Osian. “There’s no two ways about it: if we get the right result in Poland, it’ll be huge for our careers.”

Pryce is a man with a plan for Poland.

“The plan is for more of the same, more of what we did in Portugal,” he said. “We drove our own rally; we were sensible and kept a little bit in reserve just in case the roads got really rough. We’ve talked about next week a lot and we’re sure that’s the way to go. Poland is an awful lot faster than Portugal, the stages are flat-out much of the time, but we showed we could deal with them last year.

“Portugal was my first event in the Ford Fiesta R2T and by the end of that event, I felt like I was really on top of the car. Now, I can’t wait to get back in it and drive it again in Poland.

“It would be silly to say there’s no pressure on Dale and I, of course there is. But we banked some really good points with the win in Portugal and now it’s about us finishing the job – or the first part of the job – next week.

“One of the interesting facets of Poland is that it counts as a score for this first round of rallies and for the second round, where it’s paired with Rally Finland. Probably more than any other event in the season, it’s vital we get a good result next week.”

Osian will test his M-Sport-run Fiesta on Monday next week, but he’s enjoying some seat time this weekend as well. Invited to the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed, Osian’s mixing it with Britain’s three-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and the great and good of world motorsport.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to come to Goodwood,” Osian said, “and a real honour to be invited. I’m driving M-Sport’s own Fiesta R2T down here, which is fantastic. I must admit, the South Downs aren’t exactly the same as Poland, but it’s time in the car polishing off some of the rust. And just being here’s brilliant as well – it’s an amazing event.

“I haven’t seen Lewis yet, maybe he’ll come up to the rally stage to see how us DDFT boys do it over the weekend. If not, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for him on the hill!”

Pursuit of pace gets underway – The WRC Festival of Speed kicks off in Poland

Posted: June 24, 2016 5:59 PM

From “play” to “fast-forward”: Volkswagen heads into the pacey rallies in Poland and Finland as favourite in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The Rally Poland (30/06–03/07/2016) marks the opening of the Festival of Speed and together with the Rally Finland is one of the only events at which an average speed of above 120 km/h is reached. The Polo R WRC has contested five of these pacey rallies – three in Finland, two in Poland – with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen (N), who will compete with his co-driver Anders Jæger (N). The crown went to Wolfsburg five times. There will be 306.10 kilometres against the clock at the 2016 edition of the Rally Poland, spread over 21 special stages.

“After one of the slowest, now come by far the fastest rallies – it’s time to move up a gear in the world championship,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “Absolute driving precision and total concentration are the order of the day in Poland and Finland. Fractions of a second ultimately make the difference here. Our drivers showed that they can handle this well the last two years. But as a team, we are only in with a chance of success if we don’t make a single error. We are aware of that and everyone involved knows what needs to be done.”

Route for records: Wieliczky, Goldap and the Miko?ajki Arena

It is the fastest special stage ever to have been completed in a Polo R WRC: “Wieliczky” in 2014, on the second pass when Andreas Mikkelsen conquered the stage with an average speed of 136.88 km/h. It is on the schedule for the Rally Poland for the third time in a row in 2016, but as a different version. At the second-oldest rally in the world, “Swietajno” “Sta?czyki”, “Babki” and “Baranowo” are four additional stages on which the average speed goes above the 120 km/h mark. However: only two stages remain unchanged this year compared with last year – “Go?dap” and the spectator stage “Miko?ajki Arena”.

Rematch for 2014 and 2015: new edition of the Ogier vs. Mikkelsen duel

This duel kept the fans at the Rally Poland on tenterhooks in 2014 and 2015: World Champion Sébastien Ogier versus challenger Andreas Mikkelsen. Both Volkswagen drivers do well on fast special stages like the ones in Poland, so a gripping duel for the lead developed in the last two years. But the champion ended up winning both times. And many signs point to another duel of equals in 2016 – as the championship leader and third-placed driver in the standings Ogier and Mikkelsen are Volkswagen’s best-placed title contenders.

An ace in Finland, no luck in Poland – Jari-Matti Latvala is looking for a change in fortunes

In other sporting disciplines it is called a speedy counterblow, and in the WRC this expression is a fairly accurate description of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila’s ambitions. The Finnish duo is mighty at pacey rallies. Three wins – none of the current WRC duos can beat this record at the Rally Finland. However, Latvala and Anttila have remained unlucky at the Rally Poland to date. They had to give up shortly before the finish line in 2009, their race to catch up ended in fifth place in 2014, a slip-up on the Power Stage followed in 2015, which also resulted in “only” fifth place. 2016 will be the fourth attempt at securing their first podium result in Masuria. And their prospects don’t look bad: the duo will be sixth to take to the rally route, giving them a good starting position to end the mixed first half of the season with a placatory top result.

An honour and a burden: the world champions have opened the route since March 2014

In this respect, it is world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia who bear the greatest burden; as leaders of the championship, they get to open the route again. However, in Poland this starting disadvantage at gravel rallies isn’t as great as recently in the powdery soft sand of the Rally Italy. Despite flawless performances, Ogier/Ingrassia haven’t been able to win a gravel rally yet in 2016, but thanks to outstanding driving skills at the rallies in Mexico, Argentina, Portugal and Italy, ended up on the podium, making them the only duo to have consistently finished in the top three in 2016. Ogier/Ingrassia have consistently led the WRC since March 2014 and will open the route for the 29th time in a row.

Quotes ahead of the Rally Poland

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Rally Poland is definitely an event that I really look forward to every year. A high-speed rally that is comparable with the one in Finland awaits us. I particularly like fast tracks since they really suit my driving style. I only have positive memories of Poland since we have been successful there the past two years. Compared with the Rally Italy, the gravel there is totally different, and won’t be quite as challenging for our car. Things are currently going really well for Julien and me in the World Rally Championship. Even though it’s been four rallies since our last win, we have consistently extended our lead in the championship, which means my confidence is high heading to Poland. Also my new situation in my private life gives me additional strength, I imagined that it would be wonderful to be a father, but I never thought it would be so overwhelming.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The Rally Poland reminds me of the one in Finland a little – the difference being that we drive through more open terrain and fields in Poland, and the surface is slightly softer. But in terms of speed, the two rallies are very similar, they are both the fastest on the entire calendar. I usually feel more at home on fast tracks, it suits my driving style. I think that the many fast passages make a higher starting number less of an advantage than at other rallies since the traction isn’t quite as crucial. I had trouble finding the right speed at the start of the Rally Poland the past two years. I want to improve that this time since I haven’t ever managed to finish on the podium in Poland. Second place in Italy fills me with renewed confidence. Now I want to work my way up the drivers’ championship, but the competition is very tough.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The special stages at the Rally Poland and very fast and fluid to drive – I like that and it suits me. To be able to get the maximum on fast sections, you need a well-balanced car and a lot of confidence. Some of the special stages are the same as last year. So Anders and I were able to use the 2015 videos as part of our preparation. The test in Poland gave us additional insights so that we are perfectly prepared. I finished second twice in Poland the past two years. Anders and I will be third to take to the track. Despite that, I hope that we will be able to fight for the top positions. My aim is to regain second place in the overall standings. And we also want to try and close the gap between us and Sébastien Ogier. That will be far from easy, but we will do our best and want to leave the Rally Poland with as many points as possible.”

Three more questions for … Andreas Mikkelsen

Andreas, you and your co-driver Anders Jæger ran 82 of the 101.6 kilometres of the Salomon Zugspitz Ultratrail. How are you, can you move your legs again now?
Andreas Mikkelsen (laughs): “Yes, I’m a lot better and can walk normally again. But it was a fantastic experience, despite the weather conditions making it difficult. Unlike Anders, I hadn’t previously run that many longer distances, which is why the preparation for a race like that wasn’t enough. I viewed it as a challenge. After the 70th kilometre there came a point at which we noticed it might get difficult. My knees and legs were hurting, and it got worse as time went on. When we were informed that it would be downhill after the last mountain on the final ten kilometres, and that it was very muddy and slippery, we decided to give up. We had run out of energy and it was just too dangerous. It was the sensible thing to do – we didn’t want to injure ourselves.”

How important is it to be fit as a rally driver and to integrate this type of challenge into your training programme now and then?
Mikkelsen: “In general it is important for a rally driver to be fit. The days in the World Rally Car are long, and usually very warm, so good fitness is the basis for success. The key is concentration and that you are totally focussed on what you are doing. In this respect, the Ultra Trail Marathon was the perfect preparation: the conditions were extreme, it was cold, raining and we had to be highly focussed with every single step. I enjoy playing a lot of squash. And you also need to react fast in that, which helps me at the wheel during the rallies.”

You used to share an apartment with Anders, you drive together in the World Rally Championship and ran two marathon distances at once together – what is next?
Mikkelsen: “Anders and I have already done and experienced a lot together. We both love challenges and I’m sure that we will come up with another crazy idea soon. Just wait and see.” (laughs)

Entry List

Posted: June 13, 2016 4:30 PM

Abu Dhabi Total WRT to compete in Portugal and Poland

Posted: April 12, 2016 10:52 AM

After featuring among the frontrunners in the opening two rounds of the World Rally Championship, the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team has confirmed it will be competing at Rally de Portugal (19-22 May) and Rally Poland (1-3 July).

After taking part in the Rallye Monte-Carlo and then Rally Sweden, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT took a break from the WRC during its American leg. Three cars have been entered at Rally de Portugal for Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Khalid Al-Qassimi/Chris Patterson.

Last year, when the rally returned to the region of Porto, Kris Meeke finished fourth whilst Stephane Lefebvre claimed a top-five spot in the WRC2 category.

Six weeks after Portugal, the team's WRC programme will continue on the gravel stages of Rally Poland. This time, two cars will be entered for Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Craig Breen/Scott Martin. Winner of the FIA Junior WRC round in 2014, Stephane Lefebvre also competed here last year. Craig Breen has experience of the Polish round of the WRC too, since he competed here in 2013 as part of the European Rally Championship.

Rally Guide / Event Details / Website

Posted: February 11, 2016 7:32 AM

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