Lithuania features on WRC itinerary for the first time – the 32nd different country to feature in the championship.
Poland and Lithuania have different time zones but the rally will use Polish time.
Driving a Volkswagen Polo R, he was quickest over the 4.70km test close to the rally’s Mikolajki base by 0.5sec from Mads Ostberg’s Citroen DS3. Latvala’s team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen, was a further tenth of a second back.
Latvala’s fastest time came on his fourth pass, having acclimatised to the lightning quick Polish roads earlier in the morning.
“The stage was pretty fast on a wide road and similar to the event itself, except it didn’t have any narrow parts,” he said. “It took time to get used to the speed, but I did some runs to get the feeling and when I did the fourth run it felt normal.”
Latvala began with his base set-up on the Polo R before increasingly stiffening the suspension and dampers.
Fourth and just 0.2sec behind Mikkelsen was championship leader Sébastien Ogier, who completed just the minimum two runs. Kris Meeke was fifth in another DS3 and Robert Kubica delighted his home fans with sixth fastest time in his Ford Fiesta RS.
Ogier glad 'dangerous' section cut out of Rally Poland
Sebastien Ogier has applauded the organisers' decision to shorten the longest Lithuanian stage of Rally Poland on safety grounds.
The Kapciamiestis-Lithuania test has been cut from 21.15 to 8.02 miles and will be run twice in its shortened form on Friday in the WRC's first ever visit to Lithuania.
It was the first stretch of the stage which gave the organisers' cause for concern after heavy rain had damaged the gravel road.
Ogier said: "Jari-Matti [Latvala, Volkswagen team-mate] and I discussed this section after the recce. We felt it was very dangerous in this section; it's very fast into the narrow forest road with the trees close to the side.
"And when it starts to rain you don't really have control of the car when the road is full of mud - it was really clever of the organisers to make this change.
"There are still some very fast sections in the forests in Lithuania, but the worst have been cut.
"On the second run in these stages, it will be tough - the ground is really soft there and it will cut-up."
Citroen driver Mads Ostberg said he had been looking forward to the cancelled section of stage.
"I was looking forward to it," said the Norwegian. "Sure it is very fast and a bit crazy to be flat-out for 10 kilometres, but OK, I will look forward to sixth gear in a lot of other places."
The first stage was a disaster for Jari-Matti Latvala. The VW Motorsport driver was 11.6s slower than pacesetter and team-mate Sebastien Ogier through a stage that was only 14.54km long. Ogier said he pushed hard, while Latvala was left ruing his slow start as he was left squandering down in ninth place. “That was quite a bad start,” the Finn admitted. Ogier is driving really, really well. I didn’t have the confidence and I was struggling with the car to be honest. I just couldn’t get the feeling in the car.”
A common theme on the first stage was how loose the gravel road surface was. The conditions were clearly drier than they were on the pre-event recce. That meant nobody was expecting the cars to move around quite as much as they did. Tenth-placed Elfyn Evans said: “That was more loose than I expected. I’m not so much shocked at my time – more surprised by the conditions.”
Leading privateer Martin Prokop was predicting a long and painful rally – after only 14.54km of the event. The Czech driver suffered badly with a sore back at the last round in Sardinia and it reared its head on the opener in Poland. Although he was eighth fastest, he was feeling the strain. “My back was really starting to hurt a lot on the shakedown this morning and it’s painful now. I was trying to avoid the big holes in the road because of my back,” he said.
Andreas Mikkelsen jumped into the lead of the rally with his second fastest time on the 17.24km run through ‘Kruklanki 1’. The VW Polo driver was 0.9s faster than his team-mate Ogier to take a slender 0.4s advantage over the Frenchman at the top of the overall leaderboard. “Everything feels good,” the Norwegian said. “I was maybe a bit careful at the start of the stage but I’m happy with my driving – it’s very clean.”
SS2 was an eventful one for local hero Robert Kubica. The Pole was fourth fastest on the opening stage, but all his impressive work was undone on SS2 as he rolled his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. He only lost 28.3s, though, thanks to the enthusiasm of his fans lining the stage. “I was braking over a crest, the car unloaded and we went straight into the ditch and rolled,” he said. “I should have gone straight on but I tried to recover it. We had to ask the spectators to help us.” He ended the stage in 11th place overall.
The fastest stage time on SS2 went to Juho Hanninen as he registered Hyundai’s third fastest stage time in the last two events. The Finn had grown up on fast and flowing roads in his homeland and he was feeling comfortable on the Polish roads and was fourth overall, 5.3s off Mikkelsen’s lead.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s decline continued on SS2. He dropped a further 10.1s behind the leaders to leave him 21.2s off the ultimate pace. But the VW driver now had a better idea of what the problem was. He said: “I’m not happy with the braking, the car’s not turning at all. I lost quite a lot of time.” Latvala’s woes would definitely keep him engineers busy at the end of leg service.
The M-Sport World Rally Team’s frustrating start to the rally continued. Mikko Hirvonen was only ninth fastest on SS2, while team-mate Evans was 14th after an unscheduled trip into a field. Hirvonen was 26.2s off the lead, while Evans was a further 8.4s behind. Hirvonen wasn’t feeling good behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta. “I’m struggling a lot. It’s going to be a tough weekend,” the Finn predicted.
VW Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier will take a narrow 2.8s lead into the second day of LOTOS 71st Rally Poland after a closely-fought first day on the Masurian region's fast gravel stages.
The reigning world champion continued where he left off after his spectacular win at the recent Rally Italia Sardegna – by driving aggressively and pushing as hard as possible.
Once again, it was a strategy that paid off. Ogier’ Polo R WRC was fastest on two of Thursday’s three stages to head the leaderboard after 34.28km of competitive action.
For once, running first on the road wasn’t a major handicap for Ogier. “This is good fun – really fast,” he said. “I’m happy with the start of the rally and I couldn’t do any better. Tomorrow we will have to continue at this high rhythm and I’m looking forward to it.”
Ogier’s team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen, filled second place at the end of the leg. He led after the first two stages by driving neatly and keeping a cool head. But he eventually lost the lead to the hard-charging Ogier on the third stage – the 2.5km run around the Mikolajki super special.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke said he liked fast and flowing stages before the rally and it showed on the first cluster of stages. He was third overall, only 4.2s behind Mikkelsen.
“The nature of these roads is fantastic, the commitment is incredible,” Meeke explained. “Paul (Nagle, Meeke’s co-driver) is calling the notes like he’s reading a Sunday paper.”
Local hero Robert Kubica had a mixed day. He was fourth after the first stage but he dropped down the order to 11th on the next test when his Ford Fiesta R WRC lightly rolled into a ditch.
His rally was saved by an army of loyal fans who were on the scene quickly and pushed him back on to the road only seconds after his car had come to rest. The incident only cost him 28.3s but he still finished the leg in 12th place.
With Kubica hitting problems, Hyundai’s Juho Hanninen grasped the opportunity with both hands. He guided his fast-improving i20 WRC to the quickest time on SS2 to move into fourth place, a place that he kept at the end of the leg.
The crews took a trip into Lithuania on the second morning to tackle three forest stages. The second test of the day at ‘Kapciamiestis-Lithuania 1’ was shortened from 26.61km to 12.92km after heavy rain before the rally led to a severe deterioration in the condition of the road.
Andreas Mikkelsen woke up in a determined mood on Friday morning and blasted his way back into the lead of the rally with a stunning time on the opener at ‘Wieliczki 1’. The VW Polo driver was 3.2s faster than overnight leader Ogier over the 12.89km stage. The Frenchman predicted he would lose some time as the road cleaned and he was right. “That was a good stage for us,” Mikkelsen said. “There were some places where I could have improved but overall I’m happy.”
Kris Meeke drove into SS5 in third place, but exited a place worse off. The Citroen driver was 6.7s slower than his team-mate Mads Ostberg in the 12.92km test and that allowed the Norwegian to steal his position with 2.9s in hand. Meeke blamed his time loss on the condition of the forest road. “The ruts were huge, it was like a full second pass,” he said. “I was going absolutely flat out into the corners but then I had to go down a gear to get out.” Ostberg’s fastest time also meant Juho Hanninen dropped a place to fifth.
A casualty on the fifth stage was privateer driver Michal Solowow in his M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Pole was 16th heading into the stage but an unexpected trip into a ditch cost him almost ten minutes. “I missed a corner,” he explained. “It was a ‘five left’ corner in our pace notes but it should have been a ‘three left’. We were a little bit too quick.”
The rally lead changed hands once again in SS6 as Sebastien Ogier’s fastest time enabled him to leap past Andreas Mikkelsen with a cushion of 1.5s. The Frenchman said the road was damp and he felt that running first on the road was an advantage. “I didn’t take any risks but I’m happy with my time,” he said.
While Ogier was brimming with confidence, his main championship rival, Jari-Matti Latvala, was suffering a crisis of confidence. He was 4.3s slower than his team-mate on the 17.97km stage and that left him 29.4s off the lead. He was hugely deflated, despite him moving up to fourth place as those further behind him on the road dropped time in the rutted stage. “I don't have the best feeling and I don’t have the fighting spirit for the victory,” he said. “Now we have to see what we can do.”
Sebastien Ogier continued to lead LOTOS 71st Rally Poland at Friday’s mid-way point,
thanks to a 1.5s advantage over his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.
Success on Friday morning’s Lithuanian stages was largely governed by road position and, for once, Ogier benefited when it mattered the most.
He momentarily lose the lead to Mikkelsen on the drier and looser opening two stages, but when the action moved to the wetter third stage on Friday morning, Ogier was able to march on without any trouble.
The same couldn’t be said for those behind him on the road – including Mikkelsen – as they struggled in the ruts that were created as the damp road surface disintegrated.
Ogier said: “When I saw the damp stage, I knew it would be good for me. I could go fast without taking any risks in the forests.”
Citroen’s Mads Ostberg moved up to third place 15.2s off the lead, largely thanks to his fastest stage time on Friday morning’s second stage, but the road conditions caused the positions and gaps behind him to change considerably.
Kris Meeke was the biggest loser as he dropped from third place to fifth in his Citroen DS3 WRC. He was just behind Jari-Matti Latvala who had jumped up the order thanks to him running second on the road.
The Finnish duo of Juhn Hanninen and Mikko Hirvonen filled sixth and seventh places respectively, the latter’s overall pace suffering at the hands of pace notes that he described as “way too slow”.
Thierry Neuville, local hero Robert Kubica and M-Sport World Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans completed the top ten.
In the WRC 2 category, Ott Tanak continued to lead Drive DMACK team-mate Jari Ketomaa by 14.2s. Third place was filled by Estonia’s Martin Kangur, albeit 1m 33.0s off the pace.
The organisers of LOTOS 71st Rally Poland have taken the decision to cancel this afternoon’s seventh and eighth stages.
Stage seven at ‘Kapciamiestis-Lithuania’ was cancelled first. It was a re-run of the fifth stage that was run earlier today.
The stage was shortened from its original 26.61km length before the rally started due to heavy rain causing the road surface to deteriorate.
The eighth stage at 'Margionys-Lithuania' was then cancelled shortly afterwards because the gravel road surface had deteriorated to an unacceptable level.
A statement from the organisers said SS7 had been cancelled for two reasons: 'there were a number of spectators standing in unsafe places and the condition of the track surface had deteriorated badly’.
The rally will now resume on SS9, the 12.89km test at 'Wieliczki 2'.
Friday afternoon (SS9-10)
After a short remote service, the crews should have tackled the same loop of stages that they drove in the morning. But organisers cancelled two of them because of a dramatic road surface deterioration during the first pass. That left two stages to complete, the second run in ‘Wieliczki 2’ and the late night blast around the 2.5km Mikolajki super special.
The battle for the rally lead took another turn on SS9 as Andreas Mikkelsen fired his way past Sebastien Ogier, to take top spot. The Norwegian, who had traded times with his team-mate all morning, drove flat out to set a time that was a massive 2.5s faster than Ogier could manage through the 12.89km test. To put his second run in perspective, he was an incredible nine seconds faster than he was on the first run through the same test earlier in the day. “I honestly don’t think I could have driven any faster,” Mikkelsen said.
The end of SS9 was drama-packed for Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. He was 32.2s off the pace at the end of the stage and it was clear that something had gone seriously wrong with the rear-left brake caliper on his i20 WRC. The fact that it caught fire while his car was jacked up to inspect the damage, illustrated the severity of the situation. The handbrake on the Belgian’s car had locked on during the stage and that caused a dramatic overheating situation. “The rear brakes are disconnected now, so we should be okay to continue,” Neuville said afterwards.
Drama also befell WRC 2 front-runner, Karl Kruuda, who rolled his Peugeot 208 T16 in SS9. The young Estonian (below) had been nestling in fourth place heading into the test but he hit trouble after the 9.5km split and his day was over. Rival Ott Tanak, who passed Kruuda at the side of the road, said: “It was a very nasty place where he was off but I saw he was okay. These things happen.”
Ogier holds slender advantage in Poland
Sebastien Ogier saw off a fierce second day challenge from Andreas Mikkelsen to maintain his narrow lead at LOTOS 71st Rally Poland.
The Volkswagen Motorsport team-mates battled from the first to the last stage on Friday and the rally lead changed hands on no less than four occasions.
For once, Ogier’s road position at the head of the pack had benefited the Frenchman on stages that cut up very quickly – a problem that prompted organisers to cancel two stages in the afternoon. But Ogier left it until the final Mikolajki super special to steal back first place from the hard-charging Norwegian.
Ogier was faster on the 2.5km test for the second successive night to guarantee a vital 0.9s lead heading into Saturday’s ten stages.
Mikkelsen was thrilled with his day and predicted there was more to come on Saturday. “I really enjoying driving on the stages today,” he said. “The feeling is great. If the same feeling is there tomorrow, we will try to keep the pressure on.”
Behind the VW pairing, the battle for the other places was slightly less fierce. Mads Ostberg had leapt into third place earlier in the day when the rutted roads became a problem for the drivers running behind him on the road.
He ended the day 18.6s behind Mikkelsen, but 12.5s ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. Like Ogier, the VW-driving Finn had benefited from a high road position and moving up four positions on the leaderboard was a good return for his effort on day two.
A frustrated Kris Meeke came home in fifth place. He had lost two places during the day, mostly because he lost vital speed negotiating the deep ruts that greeted his Citroen DS3 WRC on at least two of the stages.
“It’s frustrating when there’s nothing you can do with the ruts,” Meeke said. “They must be a foot deep after only seven cars. It’s terrible.” He was 6.8s ahead of Juho Hanninen who had another consistent day in his Hyundai i20 WRC.
Mikko Hirvonen spent the day battling against a set of pace notes that he deemed too slow for the fast gravel roads he was actually encountering. He finished up in seventh place, 9.3s ahead of Robert Kubica’s identical Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Team-mates Ott Tänak and Jari Ketomaa continued their fierce duel for supremacy in WRC 2 during a shortened second day at LOTOS 71st Rally Poland - and Tänak came out on top to lead by 14.9sec.
The Estonian started with a 3.9sec overnight lead over Drive DMACK colleague Ketomaa and was faster through the opening three tests to widen his advantage.
The second pass through two stages in neighbouring Lithuania were cancelled due to heavily rutted roads, and while Ketomaa clawed back a few tenths in the final country test, Tänak remained in charge in his Ford Fiesta R5.
Martin Kangur is their closest pursuer in a Fiesta S2000 despite a sticking throttle, but the Estonian is 1min 45.0sec from the lead. Sébastien Chardonnet holds fourth in a Citroen DS3, a further 18.9sec behind.
The top six is completed by Yazeed Al Rajhi and Ukraine’s Valeriy Gorban. Gorban’s Mini John Cooper Works dropped behind the Saudi Arabian after going off the road in the opening test and damaging his car’s suspension in the next test.
Local hero, Krzysztof Holowczyc, exited his home rally in spectacular style on Saturday’s third stage at ‘Babki 1’. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver was reported to have rolled off the road. Fellow privateer, Martin Prokop, said he narrowly avoided suffering the same fate at exactly the same point.
Elfyn Evans’ charge on the next stage (SS14) came to a sudden stop 33.6km into the test. The M-Sport World Rally Team driver hit a rock at the side of the road and the impact damaged his Ford Fiesta’s front-left suspension. He stopped at the side of the road to try and repair the damage but was unable to get back on his way and exit the stage.
Robert Kubica’s hopes of progressing any further on his home event looked decidedly shaky after SS14. The Pole picked up a puncture on the 35.17km test. Ordinarily, he would have changed to a new tyre before heading to the next ‘Baranowo 1’ test. However, he only had one spare wheel inside his Ford Fiesta and he’d already used that to fix a puncture he picked up on Saturday’s first stage. He faced an uncertain future.
The Citroen pairing of Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg also hit trouble on SS14. Meeke was the first to falter. He sustained up a front-left puncture and dropped 2m 47s as he drove to the end of the test on a damaged Michelin tyre. That dropped him from fifth place to 11th. Ostberg’s fine run of form was broken –literally – when he clipped a rock and rolled out of third place. It was a disappointing end to the Norwegian’s rally, particularly as he was threatening to catch Andreas Mikkelsen ahead of him.
Ostberg’s rally-ending drama benefitted Jari-Matti Latvala and he moved up to third place. But the VW pilot was fortunate to even make it to the stage end after he also hit a big rock on the inside of a fast left-hand bend. The impact caused his Polo’s strut to come crashing through the wheel arch and bonnet. He had to perform some major surgery at the side of the road in a bid to make it to the next stage before service.
As if there wasn’t enough drama, the rally lead also changed on SS14 as Mikkelsen edged past Sebastien Ogier. The Norwegian was 18.5s faster than his team-mate on the long stage, but Ogier’s progress was delayed when he was forced to stop to negotiate his way past Ostberg’s stricken Citroen that was stranded in the middle of the road. “I had to stop because we couldn’t go past Mads’ car. I lost quite a lot of time,” Ogier explained. The Frenchman had been 3.3s faster than Mikkelsen at the split before he stopped so he expected to get his time loss back from the event stewards at the end of the leg.
Saturday afternoon (SS16-20)
The stages in the afternoon were a re-run of those that were used in the morning – apart from the fact that the 14.90km test at ‘Baranowo’ was replaced with another run around the 2.5km Mikolajki super special.
Martin Kangur lost his stranglehold on third place in the WRC 2 category when he stopped around 80 metres into SS16. The Estonian had taken a wheel off his S2000-spec Ford Fiesta and was unable to go any further. That handed third place to a grateful Yazeed Al Rajhi.
Andreas Mikkelsen was 3.5s slower than rally leader Sebastien Ogier on SS17 and that helped the Frenchman to increase his lead to 22.8s. Mikkelsen admitted that he wasn’t going to try and chase his team-mate for the top spot. “The challenge is too far now so I’m just trying to control the pace and manage my tyres,” he conceded.
The biggest battle at the start of Saturday afternoon was between Thierry Neuville and Mikko Hirvonen for fourth place. Hirvonen beat his rival by 0.7s in the opening ‘Chmielewo 2’ test, to reduce the deficit to a single second. But on the next test, the gap increased by 4.7s. “There’s still places where we were not perfect our notes,” he explained.
Robert Kubica’s hopes of success on his home rally were ended on SS17 when he took a right-rear wheel off his Lotos-sponsored Ford Fiesta RS WRC. His misdemeanor handed sixth place to Jari-Matti Latvala in his VW Polo WRC. Kubica’s M-Sport team hoped that the former F1 driver could restart on Sunday under Rally 2.
Only 4.6s separated Hyundai team-mates Juho Hanninen and Thierry Neuville heading into SS18, so there was all to play for in the battle for third place. But Hanninen had been steadily dropping time in the afternoon with a steering wheel that was out of alignment and that meant he was unable to respond to Neuville’s attack from behind. The Belgian took the place after going 8.8s quicker. “The steering wheel is okay if the road is straight, but it’s very frustrating in the slow sections,” Hanninen explained.
Hanninen’s misery continued on the following stage at ‘Goldap 2’ as he was caught and passed by Mikko Hirvonen this time. The M-Sport World Rally Team driver had worked on improving his pace notes after the first run through the 35.17km test earlier in the day and the changes paid off. He was 17.6 quicker than Hanninen to claim his rival’s fourth place. “I’m still in the game,” Hirvonen said positively. “I think I’m going to be watching our stage videos all night to see whether we can turn this into a good weekend.”
Sebastien Ogier’s job at the head of the leaderboard got a whole lot easier when SS19 reached its conclusion. His number one rival for victory, Andreas Mikkelsen, had driven the long gravel stage with barely any brakes on his VW Polo and that meant he dropped a massive 33.7s to his rival. Ogier, by comparison, enjoyed a clean stage and that meant his lead increased to 59.7s. Mikkelsen said: “It’s not easy on a stage as fast as this when you touch the pedal and it goes straight to the floor. It doesn’t give you any confidence.”
World Champion Sebastien Ogier will take a 1m 01.8s lead into the final day of LOTOS 71st Rally Poland after steering clear of trouble on Saturday’s ten stages.
The third day of the ultra-fast gravel rally was punctuated by a raft of problems for Ogier’s rivals. But the Frenchman used his championship-winning experience and guile to avoid any such dramas. He started the day with a 0.9s advantage and ended it with a 61-second cushion. “It’s been a good day for us. We just need to focus on getting to the finish now,” Ogier said.
Ogier’s closest challenger was once again his team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen, but his charge faltered after the second stage of the day when he spun and lost 10 seconds. His misery was complete when the brakes on his VW Polo stopped working on the penultimate stage. That was the final act in his surrender to Ogier.
The day’s biggest drama unfolded on SS14, the first run through the 35.17km ‘Goldap 1’ test. Kris Meeke, Robert Kubica and Henning Solberg all dropped vital time when they suffered punctures, while Jari-Matti Latvala suffered near terminal suspension damage when he clouted a rock in his VW Polo.
The stage also accounted for Elfyn Evans who retired after seriously damaging his Ford Fiesta RS WRCs front-left suspension, while Citroen’s Mads Ostberg joined him on the sidelines when he smashed into the same rock and rolled his DS3 WRC.
Ott Tänak is on course to take his maiden WRC 2 victory at Lotos 71st Rally Poland after extending his lead over team-mate Jari Ketomaa to more than a minute today.
The Estonian will start tomorrow’s final leg with a 1min 29.1sec advantage over Ketomaa. Such has been their dominance that the Drive DMACK pair have won every speed test in their Ford Fiesta R5s.
Tänak was under no pressure and measured his pace on the soft and sandy roads. Even when co-driver Raigo Mölder accidentally opened the wrong pace notes at the beginning of SS12, Tänak remained unflustered – and set fastest time.
“It’s been a good day without any problems and we’ve driven at a safe rhythm. There are some difficult stages tomorrow and conditions will be hard because we’ve already driven them once, so I have to stay concentrated,” said Tänak.
His 14.9sec overnight advantage increased significantly when Ketomaa damaged his car’s sump guard after hitting a rock buried in a puddle in SS12 before spinning in the next stage. With the gap over a minute, Ketomaa was in no mood to chase his colleague.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi is third in a Fiesta RRC, 3min 31.2sec off the lead, with Ukraine’s Valeriy Gorban fourth, despite twice spinning his Mini John Cooper Works in SS13.
Sunday morning (SS21-22)
The final day of action in Poland got underway with two consecutive stages – a re-run of the ‘Milki’ and ‘Kruklanki’ tests that were used to open the event on Thursday afternoon.
Robert Kubica’s bid to salvage something from his first Rally Poland in a WR Car hit problems before he’d even arrived at Sunday’s first stage. The Pole, a retirement on Saturday afternoon when he took the right-rear wheel off his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 14 minutes late out of morning service when his M-Sport team discovered a problem with the car’s alternator. That meant he was handed a 2m 20s time penalty, leaving him almost 25 minutes off the lead.
Ott Tänak ended a frustrating start to the season by claiming his maiden win in WRC 2 at LOTOS 71st Rally Poland today.
A series of crashes left the pre-season title favourite languishing in the standings, but he led from start to finish to beat Drive DMACK team-mate Jari Ketomaa by 1min 38.2sec.
The Estonian dominated the four-day event on sandy roads in Poland and Lithuania, winning 17 of the 22 stages. He and Ketomaa built a big lead over their rivals and with no pressure from his team-mate, Tänak measured his pace for much of the event.
“We had a small fight on Friday with Jari but after that it was fine. We’ve had some unlucky moments this season but finally we’ve done it,” said Tänak, who climbed to fifth in the championship.
Ketomaa dropped time on the third day after hitting a rock and spinning his similar Fiesta R5. However, second means the Finn moves to third in the title race, with his home event coming next.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi finished third in a Fiesta RRC, despite a suspected broken propshaft in the last stage. He finished 4min 11.2sec off the lead.
Sebastien Ogier takes a massive 50-point lead into the second half of the FIA World Rally Championship season,
after a resounding win at LOTOS 71st Rally Poland.
The ultra-fast gravel event was largely an unknown quantity for the teams, having been missing from the WRC calendar for five years. But the reigning world championship didn’t let any hesitancy creep into his performance.
He was fastest on 10 of the 22 stages that were driven, including the rally-ending Power Stage where three bonus championship points were up for grabs. His winning margin of 1m 07s was just reward for his dominant performance and he claimed the 21st victory of his career.
"I think it's the perfect weekend for me,” the VW Motorsport driver said. “I have got a victory and a good step for the championship. I saw on the first full day I had a disadvantage by opening the road, but if I could maintain the same rhythm after that I knew I would be okay.”
Second place was filled by Ogier’s team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen. The 25-year-old Norwegian was extremely fast during the opening exchanges but his challenge faltered on the second day when he spun and lost the brakes on his Polo R WRC. Mikkelsen soon realised there was no opportunity to safely challenge for the lead and he focused on holding station for the remaining stages.
Hyundai’s promising first season in the WRC returned another podium finish for the i20 WRC with Thierry Neuville behind the wheel. The Belgian’s only drama on his way to third place was when his car’s handbrake locked on in SS9 and he lost 32.2s.
Dates back to 1951 when it was launched as a means of deciding the Finnish entries for Rallye Monte-Carlo.
It took on the name 1000 Lakes Rally and was included in the calendar for the WRC in its first year in 1973.
It has been dominated by Finnish drivers who have won 52 of the 63 editions. Top of the roll of honour are Hannu Mikkola and Marcus Grönholm with seven wins.
What’s new for 2014
Event gains an extra day with a Sunday finish reintroduced.
Only four of 2013 stages remain.
Shorter version of famous Ouninpohja test to be used on Friday.
Jyväskylä city centre mixed surface Harju test back on itinerary for the first time in 15 years.