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Poland (Rajd Polski) - 29 Jun-2 Jul 17

Posted: June 23, 2017 5:49 AM - 1057 Hits

Round 8 - 2017 World Rally Championship

Hyundai Motorsport in prime position for Polish podium

Posted: June 23, 2017 5:23 AM

Hyundai Motorsport will aim to continue its recent run of podium results as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves to Poland for round eight of the 2017 season.

Having secured top-three finishes at every gravel event so far this year, including victories at Tour de Corse and Rally Argentina, hopes are high that the team can once again challenge at the front of the competitive WRC field.

The scene of two previous podiums, in 2014 for Thierry Neuville and in 2016 for Hayden Paddon, the team will be looking for another assured performance in this year’s event.

Despite claiming a podium last time out in Sardinia, and showing the rally-winning capabilities of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, the team lost some ground to M-Sport in the close Championship battle. Efforts will therefore be refocused on securing a stronger combined team result.

Polished performance

Set against the backdrop of the picturesque Masurian Lake District region, the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally crews will need to be at their best to traverse the super-quick sandy roads of northern Poland.

Renowned for its rapid speeds and grassy sections, Rally Poland also sees plenty of rocky passages and stretches of limited visibility, meaning that crews will be put to the ultimate test.

First run in 1923, the Polish entry to the WRC Calendar is one of the oldest rallies in the world. It was included in the inaugural WRC Championship schedule in 1973, where only three entrants managed to cross the finish line. The crews will be hoping for a much higher success rate this time out.

More than one third of this year’s itinerary is new, meaning that accuracy of pace notes will be of paramount importance. The three Hyundai Motorsport crews of Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Dani Sordo/Marc Martí all tested in Lithuania this week in preparation for Rally Poland. With five different winners across the first seven events, it promises to be another competitive WRC weekend.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:
“From the hot coastal setting of Sardinia, we move onto the fastest rallies of the season – Poland and Finland – which will offer a brand new set of demands for our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. Poland is a rally at which we have always been quite competitive, with a podium in our debut season and again last year. We know our car is well suited to gravel but now will be the first true test at higher speeds. Our target is very much on the Championship battle, which is intensifying with each event. We need to ensure a strong team result at all rallies if we are to take the fight to M-Sport. That means we need to work with all three of our crews to help them to get the best out of their cars, and indeed themselves on each stage.”

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Paddon has demonstrated strong pace in recent gravel rallies, taking multiple stage wins in Portugal and leading in Sardinia for a large part of the event. Alongside co-driver Seb Marshall, the Kiwi will put his recent frustrations behind him and target his first podium of 2017 in Poland.

Paddon said:
“Our performance in Sardinia showed exactly what we are capable of achieving. It was a shame to lose the lead in the way that we did, but we have to bounce back. I am determined to focus on the positives, of which there were many in the recent rallies. I have spent some time back in New Zealand in between the events, which was good to help refocus. Poland is definitely one of my favourite rallies. It’s one of the fastest of the year, and of course I love going as quick as I can! I think the car will suit the roads quite well. We’re looking forward to it and as always we’ll be giving it 100%.”

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul head to Poland, hoping to extend their run of five consecutive podiums, which dates back to Rally Mexico. Holding second in the Championship after seven rounds, the Belgian is just 18 points from leader Sébastien Ogier and knows that every rally will be crucial.

Neuville said: “I really enjoy Rally Poland as I like the flow of the stages. There are not as many dangerous corners and the stages are quite open. You can be a bit braver at this one and take a few more risks. It is a lot of fun because the speed is just amazing, but at the same time, we know that we have a job to do and we want to continue to press as hard as we can to stay in the Championship hunt. We are now into the latter stages of the season, so this is where every moment and every decision matters.”

Crew Notes: Sordo/Martí (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Sordo and his compatriot Marc Martí will be aiming to continue in Poland where they left off on the final day of Sardinia where they scored a stage win and four Power Stage points. Poland will offer them a chance to fight for their third podium of the season.

Sordo said: “Given the speeds that can be reached in Poland, it is vitally important that our pace notes are accurate. This is particularly the case through some of the corners, where you can lose a lot of time if you make even the smallest mistake. There is no margin for error because it is a really, really fast rally. In general, the atmosphere is nice, with huge crowds present, so it is an enjoyable event. We finished very strongly in Sardinia, and will look to build on that in Poland!”

Rally Poland at a glance

Consisting of 23 stages run across 326.64km, Rally Poland will be the fifth gravel outing of the season.

Mikolajki, several hours north of the capital Warsaw, will serve as the rally’s base. It will host the start and finish, as well as a Super Special stage next to the service park that is run three times throughout the weekend.

After Thursday evening’s curtain raiser, Friday’s format is unchanged from last year. The action will comprise of two loops of four tests to the north-east, before a repeat of the Super Special stage duels – meaning a total of 116.16km of ground covered on the event’s second leg.

Saturday sees the action head north for four stages that are driven twice, before a final pass over the Mikolajki Super Special Stage.

Sunday will feature four final tests, amongst which will be the Paprotki Power Stage, a new addition to the 2017 schedule.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing accelerates onto super-fast Polish stages

Posted: June 23, 2017 5:20 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will take on some of the fastest roads in the FIA World Rally Championship on Rally Poland from June 29 to July 2, when it will look to continue its strong momentum last time out in Sardinia. Now the team faces a brand-new challenge on rapid gravel stages that are very different from those of southern Europe, but with the possibility of more very hot weather.

Although it is the fourth consecutive round held on gravel, Rally Poland poses a very different challenge to the events held before it, with soft, sandy and flowing stages. The high speeds can be similar to those seen on Rally Finland, so it will provide a good opportunity for the team and three crews to develop the performance of the Yaris WRC in these demanding conditions ahead of the following round.

Rally Poland is based at the town of Mikolajki in the north-east of the country, where a super special stage hosts the opening stage on Thursday evening. It features again at the end of both Friday and Saturday’s action, when it follows two loops of four stages. The rally ends on Sunday with two stages ran twice, featuring the new 18.68-kilometre Paprotki test that serves as the event-closing Power Stage.

To prepare for next week’s rally, all three drivers took part in a test on gravel in Estonia, using similar roads to those that will be seen in Poland.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Poland will be an interesting rally with a different challenge: a bit like Finland in some ways, but without the jumps and with a softer surface. It should be a good test for the aerodynamics of our car at high speed, which is an area where we have normally been working well. Poland should also be less hard on the car, after some of the rough rallies we have seen recently, but of course you can never tell for sure how it will be until you get there. I never drove in Poland myself, so I don’t really know what to expect. In terms of objectives, the drivers know what to do so I will just let them get on with it while doing everything I can to help them focus and stay concentrated.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“We had a really good test for Poland, which featured some rain as well, and I think this will be very useful as there was also some rain on the final day in Poland last year, which often happens after you have many days of hot conditions as we expect next week. We made some steps forward with the dampers and I was particularly impressed by the stability of the car. With a lot of the car’s development having taken place on the rapid roads of Finland, I think the Yaris WRC should be well suited to the very fast roads in Poland too.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“I was happy with our progress in Sardinia and our preparations were able to build on that. I actually think that our car is better on the fast rallies compared to the slow rallies so this gives me a lot of confidence, as you do not have to worry so much about the set-up and you can just concentrate on the driving. On the test, I made some changes to the suspension and since then there has been even more development, so this is really positive. Road cleaning will not be as big a factor as it was in Sardinia but Friday could still be important.

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“The test before Poland was a good step up for me: from the slow roads of Sardinia to the really fast and flat-out roads that we experienced in testing. I would say that the test was representative, although maybe in Poland we can expect roads that are slightly softer and sandier. Although I had a good result in Sardinia I have no particular expectations for Poland. Because it’s a really fast rally you need a lot of confidence and I’m not sure if I have that yet. I just want to have a clean run and reach the finish with no problems in order to learn as much as possible.”

Meeke not going to Poland..... CITROEN RACING - A REVISED LINE-UP FOR RALLY POLAND

Posted: June 12, 2017 4:10 AM

With Andreas Mikkelsen's eighth place ending up as the team's best result, the 2017 Rally Italia Sardegna fell short of the expectations of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. Determined to pursue the approach begun this weekend, the team's driver line-up will feature Andreas once again at Rally Poland (29 June - 2 July). The Norwegian will be competing in Miko?ajki alongside Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre.

"After a series of disappointing results, we have asked Kris Meeke to take a step back for this next rally," explained Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. "Kris accepted that this would be in the best interests of the team and we'd like to thank him for his understanding. This break will give him the chance to recharge his batteries and release some of the pressure before preparing for Rally Finland. He won in Finland last year after producing a perfect performance, so we hope he'll come back stronger. At the same time, this change in line-up means we can keep working with Andreas. This first experience was more like a test session than a proper competitive outing. A second rally will give him the chance to use the things he has already learned to get closer to the leading guys. Moreover, he is particularly fond of Rally Poland since he won the event last year."

"We also remain committed to supporting our young drivers with Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre, who will both be competing at the next round," continued Yves Matton. "They both took part in the 2016 Rally Poland, and recorded decent performances. They will therefore have a good opportunity to show what they can do. Having said that, their main target will remain to get to the finish without making any mistakes."

In order to prepare for round eight of the WRC, the team will spend four days testing in Poland. Andreas Mikkelsen, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre will take turns behind the wheel of the C3 WRC. Meanwhile, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle will take part in recce for Rally Poland.

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