Rally Poland 2014

 

Top two spots in Poland.

 

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are once again setting all the standards in this year’s WRC, with five wins out of seven this season. The reigning world champions, who hail from France, succeeded in winning the latest WRC event in Poland, and have further extended Volkswagen’s incredible success story. The win in Poland also marks their eleventh rally victory in a row – another record extended!

 

Volkswagen Motorsport’s junior driver Andreas Mikkelsen had every reason to be happy too. The Norwegian repeated his best WRC success so far, matching the second place he scored in Rally Sweden. For a while during Rally Poland, it looked like he might do even better than second place, with the first leg being dominated by a battle between him and Séb to steal and maintain the lead. And at the end of all the action on Friday, Sébastien had a lead of just 0.7 seconds over Andreas. 

 

It was an impressive performance. “Andreas delivered a strong performance today. It certainly won’t be easy for us to defend or even extend our lead on Saturday,” said a clearly impressed Sébastien Ogier at the end of the first leg. It was then actually easier for the reigning world champion to extend his lead than he had anticipated, but that was more down to Mikkelsen than anything else: he made three mistakes during the second special stage of the second day and then had a spot of trouble with his brakes too. Consequently, Ogier had succeeded in increasing his lead to more than a minute by the end of the second day, after which Mikkelsen began to focus ‘only’ on defending his second place.

For a while, Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila had their sights set on second place too, but it would appear that the Finns and Rally Poland are never going to be the best of friends. There’s a backstory here: the last time there was a WRC race in Poland back in 2009, the Finnish duo were in second place right up to the final special stage, but had an accident not far from the finishing line and had to retire from the rally. It’s a traumatic experience that has haunted Jari-Matti for the last five years. He was therefore visibly relieved when he managed to complete the same super special stage for the first time on Thursday evening. “I’ve managed to complete this special stage at last. I had some really bad memories of this stage, and the concrete walls did come a little too close on a few occasions. But it all worked out in the end, and now I can really attack this rally.”

 

No sooner said than done – with their courage restored and with a new vehicle set-up, the Finns sped through Poland and Lithuania on Friday, and engaged in a thrilling duel for third place with the Norwegian Mads Østberg (Ford). A day later, it looked for a while like Jari-Matti and Miikka had come out on top, as Mads Østberg rolled his Fiesta during the turbulent 14th special stage (Gołdap), allowing Latvala to move up to third place behind Ogier and Mikkelsen. But Latvala wasn’t to be that lucky: he attempted to overtake the Brit Kris Meeke (Citroën), who was driving very slowly due to a flat tyre, but his Polo R WRC hit a large rock and his front left damper went through the engine cover, with devastating results. Latvala limped into the service at the end of SS 15 without any shock absorption and with a front spoiler dragging along the ground, losing two minutes on the front-runners in the process. 

 

A highly frustrated Latvala handed his car over to the mechanics, with few hopes that they would be able to do much: the mechanics can only work on a vehicle for 30 minutes, and there is a time penalty for every minute that they go over this time. But a team of just four mechanics pulled off an amazing feat, replacing the front dampers, the entire front axle including the steering, the front left spindle, the front underbody protection, the wiper engine, the windscreen, the engine cover and the front left fender, including the mudflap, in just 28 minutes.

 

Latvala was back in the race and gave it his all. He gradually worked his way up from seventh place, and achieved the fastest time in five of the remaining eight special stages. His efforts ultimately only got him up to fifth place, missing out on the fourth place clinched by the Finn Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) by just 0.7 seconds. Latvala’s summary at the end of the rally reflected this: “It was a rally with some ups and downs, but ultimately a happy ending. I lacked confidence at the beginning and the vehicle set-up wasn’t right, and then we lost a lot of time due to the damaged damper. But ultimately what matters the most is that we managed to hit the right pace again and were therefore able to partially close the gap to the front-runners.”


Volkswagen Motorsport wins the Rally Poland and celebrates its eleventh successive victory. The video.


Rally Poland 2014: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:34:02.0    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:35:09.7 +1:07.7  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:36:15.5 +2:13.5  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:36:34.4 +2:32.4  
5 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:36:35.1 +2:33.1  
6 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 2:36:51.9 +2:49.9  
7 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 2:38:29.9 +4:27.9  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 2:38:34.1 +4:32.1  
9 H. Solberg / I. Minor 2:39:01.0 +4:59.0  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:40:13.3 +6:11.3  

Impressions

The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2014 Rally Poland a second time around: every single day and every single special stage.

 

Click through each day’s picture gallery and watch video clips of each stage. The whole thing is rounded off with all of the pre-event reports and interviews. Happy reading!

Sunday, 29.06.2014


Volkswagen Motorsport wins the Rally Poland and celebrates its eleventh successive victory in overlapping seasons. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (14)
15:38 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after 24 of 24 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:34:02.0    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:35:09.7 +1:07.7  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:36:15.5 +2:13.5  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:36:34.4 +2:32.4  
5 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:36:35.1 +2:33.1  
6 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 2:36:51.9 +2:49.9  
7 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 2:38:29.9 +4:27.9  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 2:38:34.1 +4:32.1  
9 H. Solberg / I. Minor 2:39:01.0 +4:59.0  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:40:13.3 +6:11.3  

15:20 (CEST)

Important win in the world championship stakes.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“It’s just brilliant – this win was an important one in the world championship stakes! Julien and I had a perfect rally here in Poland. The stages were incredibly quick – and the huge numbers of fans along the way were simply brilliant. As a driver, you can enjoy every single kilometre. On the final day today, there were some wonderful stretches again where I had to force myself not to go at full pelt. Because obviously we didn’t want to jeopardise our lead too much. I’d like to say a huge thank-you to my team, who provided me with a perfect car every day. The Polo R WRC is simply a great car to drive. You can hurtle through the forest at 200 km/h and everything works like Swiss precision clockwork.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It was a rally with some ups and downs, but ultimately a happy ending. I lacked confidence at the beginning and the vehicle set-up wasn’t right, and then we lost a lot of time due to the damaged damper. But ultimately what matters the most is that we managed to hit the right pace again and were therefore able to partially close the gap to the front-runners. I have now also overcome my demons from Rally Poland in 2009, as I managed to win the stage where I was forced to pull out back then. Unfortunately, Sébastien Ogier has increased his overall lead in the WRC – but we will try to reduce the gap again in Finland.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“Second place and my second podium finish in the WRC – it’s a great result. It was an honour for me to battle it out with the reigning world champion for the top spot for so long. I didn’t manage to beat him and take the lead in the end, but my aim is still to one day stand on the top step of the winners’ rostrum. We will endeavour to gradually improve to the levels of Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala – and we took a big step in that direction here in Poland. For now, though, I’m going to celebrate the fact that I came second and recognise what we achieved this weekend. I really enjoyed the special stages. They were fast and smooth – and that’s the kind of driving I like.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“What a great premiere for Volkswagen in Rally Poland! This WRC event was terra incognita for our team, so securing the fourth one-two victory of the year here and extending our run of successes is a huge achievement for the entire team. Sébastien Ogier was once again in a class of his own in the tough conditions, Andreas Mikkelsen demonstrated why he likes fast and smooth tracks, and Jari-Matti Latvala put in a strong catching-up performance. The mechanics pulled off a major feat to put his Polo R WRC back in the running, so it’s hats off to them. After four long, hard rally days with very little sleep, we all deserve a beer.”


14:00 (CEST)

Perfect performance.


Sébastien Ogier seizes the maximum possible number of 28 championship points in Poland.


Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) heads into the brief summer break in the 2014 championship season with a reassuring lead. “I can afford to have two rallies where I don't score any points and I would probably still top the standings,” said the Frenchman doing some quick maths after his victory at the Rally Poland. Together with the three bonus points for his victory on the power stage, the reigning world champion leaves Mikołajki with a total of 28 points. “That's not the only reason that the weekend was perfect. The speedy special stages were a lot of fun and my Polo R WRC didn't have any problems at all.”


Co-driver Julien Ingrassia looked five weeks into the future, to the end of the summer break. “This weekend was the perfect preparation for the Rally Finland. We had four days to get used to the speed that is driven there.” Ogier/Ingrassia will head to Finland with high expectations at any rate – last year they won at the rally of 1000 lakes.


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) isn't even thinking about winning in Poland. “I'd be more than happy with a place on the podium,” said the runner up of the Rally Poland. “But I'm getting closer to Sébastien with each rally. That's a great feeling.”
After Ogier, Mikkelsen drove the second-fastest time on the power stage. Just like his team captain he had gone easy on his tyres in the previous stages, driving with comparative restraint. A strategy that paid off. “The power stage at the end was amazing. I love these high-speed stages.”


Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) returned to relatively good spirits at the end of the seventh WRC rally of the 2014 season. “I was really frustrated yesterday. Not just because I damaged the suspension in an overtaking manoeuvre. I couldn't find the right rhythm either. It was a different story today.”


For Latvala, who missed out on fourth place by a fractional 0.7 seconds, it was particularly important to find his old form ahead of his home rally. “The Rally Finland is not a rally where you want to be lacking in self confidence.”


13:30 (CEST)

Our final number of the day from the Rally Poland is 118.5. No, not how much a train ticket to Mikołajki costs, but the average speed across all special stages at the Rally Poland this year. The reason: Ahead of the rally there was much speculation as to whether Poland, with its special stages driven at high speeds, would be able to overtake Finland as the fastest rally of the season so far. Now we know: Finland retains the record for speed. With an average speed of 120.91 km/h* it is still the fastest event on the WRC calendar. But with an average of 118.5 km/h, the race in Poland is definitely a high-speed chase.

* Value from 2013


13:00 (CEST)

Commanding victory and six bonus points for the Volkswagen drivers.

 

They pulled out all the stops this weekend: Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won the Rally Poland comfortably and even snatched three bonus points with their best time on the final power stage.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene also delivered a strong performance and were rewarded with a fantastic second place in the overall standings. On top of that, the second-fastest time on the power stage secures them two bonus points.

Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila landed in fifth place in the overall standings – they ended up just 0.7 seconds off fourth-placed Mikko Hirvonen (Ford). Their consolation prize is the bonus point they take with them for the third-fastest power stage time.


11:40 (CEST)

Just under 15 kilometres to victory.

Shortly before the final special stage at the Rally Poland, the fans at the track were treated to another spectacular display. The WRC drivers went head to head in the Mikołajki Arena. Jari-Matti Latvala took on Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) while front runner Sébastien Ogier raced against Andreas Mikkelsen.

Latvala drove the best time, but due to the short distance of 2.5 kilometres it came as no surprise that he was unable to make up much time since the competition wasn't that much slower. Andreas Mikkelsen won his battle with the leader Sébastien Ogier. The latter is now just 14.9 kilometres away from victory in Poland, with only Special Stage Baranowo 2 (Power Stage) left to complete.


09:51 (CEST)

Jari-Matti puts his foot down –
Neuville defends.

It's still full attack for Jari-Matti Latvala, who also managed to win the 22nd special stage (Kruklanki 2). However, third-placed Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), whose position Latvala has set his sights on, defended his lead and drove the second-fastest time.

Meanwhile front runner Sébastien Ogier and second-placed Andreas Mikkelsen aren't taking any more risks and finished in fifth and sixth place respectively.


09:05 (CEST)

Take it easy, Séb.

With a lead of just over a minute and four remaining special stages, Sébastien Ogier can afford to relax a bit now. No such luck for Jari-Matti Latvala who has set his sights on Thierry Neuville's (Hyundai) third place. The Finn drove the best time on the section Milki 2 and reduced the gap to 23.5 seconds. That's still quite a distance, but we have three special stages left and about 35 kilometres to drive – nothing's impossible ...

It's no change at the top: Séb has a considerable lead over Andreas Mikkelsen, Neuville is third.


Sunday: the special stages of the third day.

06:00 (CEST)

Saturday, 28.06.2014


Sébastien Ogier extends his lead over Andreas Mikkelsen. Jari-Matti Latvala's bad luck. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (21)
23:23 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after 20 of 24 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:08:47.3    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 2:09:49.1 +1:01.8  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:11:07.8 +2:20.5  
4 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 2:11:18.5 +2:31.2  
5 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 2:11:32.5 +2:45.2  
6 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:11:32.9 +2:45.6  
7 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 2:12:57.6 +4:10.3  
8 H. Solberg / I. Minor 2:13:16.8 +4:29.5  
9 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 2:13:20.3 +4:33.0  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 2:14:05.9 +5:18.6  

23:30 (CEST)

“It was a perfect day for me and Julien.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“The day began with a bit of a scare on a long stretch during the second stage. But after that, it was a perfect day for me and Julien. We managed to extend our lead in each stage and we now have a good buffer, among other things because my teammate Andreas Mikkelsen was obviously having some difficulties towards the end. But there are still just under 50 kilometres to go. And if it rains overnight, the conditions on the final day could be very difficult. All we have to do is make it to the finishing line without any major mishaps. It’s essential that we hit the right rhythm very quickly tomorrow morning. Fortunately, we are now in a position where we no longer have to risk everything.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“I did everything I could this afternoon and I really attacked. We lost a lot of time during the first run because of our damaged damper, so after that we went all out to attack! Two special stage wins really prove what a fantastic job our mechanics did during the lunchtime service – our Polo R WRC was driving like a dream after that. We have now made good a lot of ground on the teams in front of us and we will try to maintain our high pace until we cross the finishing line. Every single point counts in the world championship.” 

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Today actually started quite well for us. We had just reduced our teammate Sébastien Ogier’s minimal lead on us when I made a mistake during the second special stage. I flew across a crossing while driving on cobblestones, so I had to reverse, which cost me ten seconds. I then made another two minor mistakes, which cost me some more time. From then on, I had lost my rhythm. We also experienced a few problems with the brakes during the second run of the longest stage, so we slipped back even further. Sébastien’s time lead is now way too big for us to close the gap on the basis of our performance alone. He is, after all, the reigning world champion and he is using the same materials as us. We now want to continue to control our pace and secure second place. It would be a fantastic result for us to finish Rally Poland up on the podium.”


23:00 (CEST)

Latvala plans pursuit.

 

The Finn still has 50 kilometres of special stages to snatch at least fourth place.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) has just under 50 kilometres to catch Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and Juho Hänninen (Hyundai) on Sunday. At the end of the second leg he trails his two Finnish compatriots by 0.4 seconds and 14.4 seconds respectively. “It's doable,” said Latvala full of confidence at the end of Saturday's leg.

 

However, after the morning's damage to the suspension, the podium is a step too far for the number two driver in the world championship – 25.1 seconds, to be exact. “The only slight chance I have now is if it rains on Sunday. Then the tracks will be extremely difficult.” At least he was able to make up a place on Saturday afternoon when he had a fully functioning car once again.

 

In contrast it looks like the closing leg will be mostly leisurely at the top. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) heads into the four special stages on Sunday leading team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) by more than a minute. “I'm hoping that the special stages stay dry,” said Ogier at the end of the leg. “But fortunately the weather can't be controlled, so we need to take rain into account. At least I'm in the position of being able to control the others, which is perfect.” Since the Frenchman will be the last of the top drivers to take to the track on the final day, he will be able to align his speed with the competition.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen is also more than happy with second place. After braking problems on Special Stage 19, the gap between him and leader Ogier was too great to be able to go on the attack on Sunday again anyway. “It's not so bad only having the reigning world champion ahead of me is it?!”.


22:40 (CEST)

If anyone has earned a beer at the end of the day today it's Jari-Matti Latvala's mechanics – after working the screwdrivers as hard as they could during the lunchtime service: In just 28 minutes they managed to repair the badly damaged Polo R WRC. Made up of just four men, the team of mechanics replaced the suspension at the front left, parts of the steering, the bonnet and the left mudguard and bumper. Even the broken windscreen was replaced. Right at the end the speedy men behind the screwdrivers also replaced the wiper motor. And all that in just 28 minutes – our number of the day.


22:30 (CEST)

Ogier is unbeatable in his arena.

 

For the third time this rally weekend, the drivers took to the Super Special Stage in the Mikołajki Arena on Saturday evening. World champion Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 was victorious on the 2.50-kilometre circuit on Thursday and Friday – and the competition didn't get a look in at the third appearance either.

 

The Volkswagen driver took 1:48.8 minutes to complete the lap – this was the ninth best time for Ogier at the Rally Poland. Jari-Matti Latvala in the Polo R WRC #2 was second, trailing by 1.6 seconds and continues to gain ground in the overall standings. Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) secured a good fourth place and rounded off another strong team result.

 

Another four special stages covering a total of 49.18 kilometres are scheduled for Sunday. Ogier wants to assert his top position ahead of team-mate Mikkelsen on the final leg. Latvala in sixth place is still in with a chance of the third spot on the podium – the excitement is not over yet.


20:15 (CEST)

The flying Finn in the fast lane.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala had unfinished business with Special Stage Goldap. As the drivers completed the 35.17 kilometres of the longest special stage at the Rally Poland at midday, the Volkswagen driver damaged his Polo R WRC #2 in an evasive manoeuvre and lost valuable seconds – the Finn has recovered them now.

 

With a fantastic time of 17:21.7 minutes, Latvala left the competition behind on Special Stage 19. World champion Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 didn't take any unnecessary risks since he has a clear overall lead, but still finished second and extended his lead over team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen in the Polo R WRC #9 to almost a minute.

 

Meanwhile Latvala's chase continues. The Volkswagen driver may still be in sixth place in the overall standings, but there is now only a gap of 25 seconds separating the Finn from Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville and his podium spot.

 

 


19:04 (CEST)

Volkswagen trio leave the rest behind.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala in the Polo R WRC #2 hasn't quite given up hope of finishing on the podium at the Rally Poland just yet. On the 15.76-kilometre 18th special stage Babki 2, the Finn was unbeatable with a time of 7:40.1 minutes. Latvala's team-mates Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) finished in second and third to round off the excellent result for Volkswagen nicely.

 

World champion Ogier still leads the overall standings ahead of team-mate Mikkelsen and Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville. Latvala is currently in sixth place, but has narrowed the gap between him and the Belgian's podium spot yet again. He now trails Neuville by just over half a minute – completely within reach.


17:30 (CEST)

Ogier and Latvala evenly matched.

 

World champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) has extended his lead at the Rally Poland further. On the 17th special stage Stare Juchy 2, the Volkswagen driver crossed the finish line after 7:25.5 minutes – team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the Polo R WRC #2 finished with the exact same time. Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) took 3.5 seconds longer, but remains in second place behind Ogier in the overall standings (+22.8 seconds).

 

Victory on Special Stage 17 went to Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville, who finished 0.7 seconds faster than Ogier and Latvala. Latvala moved up a place in the overall standings and is now in sixth place. The Finn benefited from the retirement of Poland's Robert Kubica (Ford).


16:30 (CEST)

Positions one, two and three for Volkswagen –
Mikkelsen hangs on.


Leader Sébastien Ogier can't quite pull ahead after the lunch break: The Frenchman may have driven the best time on the 16th special stage, but trailing by 0.3 seconds, pursuer Andreas Mikkelsen was just a touch slower. The gap in the overall standings is now at 19.3 seconds.

Jari-Matti Latvala is driving quickly again after his mechanics repaired the damaged Polo R WRC with a great performance in record time. The Finn drove the third-quickest time right off the bat – but the podium is still a long way off for Latvala. The next aim is to snatch sixth place, currently occupied by Robert Kubica (Ford). However, the Pole is still 12.2 seconds ahead.


15:58 (CEST)

Latvala back in the race.

 

Volkswagen mechanics worked a miracle during the lunchtime service.

 

There was thunderous applause as the Polo R WRC with car number 2 rolled out of the Volkswagen service area towards the time control at the last minute. The mechanics did a great job, Jari-Matti Latvala is back in the race with a car that's as good as new.


Things looked very different half an hour earlier. Latvala returned to the service park in Mikołajki with damaged suspension, dampers protruding from the mudguard, a broken windscreen and a front spoiler dragging on the ground. “I hit a stone while I was overtaking Kris Meeke. It broke the upper attachment of the strut at the front left,” said the Finn looking back at Special Stage 14.


The subsequent emergency repair with standard tools only held for a few hundred metres to the start of Special Stage 15. Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila lost just over one and a half minutes, but made it to the safety of the service.


The team of mechanics grafted for about 28 minutes, with only four people working on the car, as stipulated in the regulations. They even changed the wiper motor right at the end. Thanks to the show of strength from the mechanic in charge of the screwdriver there was no penalty for exceeding the service time. Latvala/Anttila are now seventh, about half a minute behind ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica and Latvala's fellow Finn Mikko Hirvonen (both Ford). “It's going to be tough to overtake Robert and Mikko again by this evening. But it's doable,” said Jari-Matti drawing courage.


At the top Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) has pulled away from team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) slightly in the meanwhile. “The afternoon will be hard because this morning's special stages are really churned up. A lot can happen. Especially since it may well rain,” said Ogier.


Mikkelsen was annoyed about the morning's two errors at the lunch break. “At one point I came off the track slightly and damaged my tyres. While we only lost a little bit of time, I had to drive a bit more cautiously for the rest of the loop since I only had one replacement wheel with me.”


Shortly after this the Norwegian had to take the emergency exit at a junction after a failed braking manoeuvre. “I couldn't get the car into reverse,” he said explaining the comparatively large loss of time. Mikkelsen left the service break trailing leader Ogier by 19 seconds. “It will be more than difficult to retake such a big lead from someone like Sébastien Ogier,” said the Volkswagen junior knowingly.

You can find all the results here.


Classification after 15 of 24 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:31:00.2    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 1:31:19.2 +19.0  
3 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 1:32:52.5 +1:52.3  
4 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:33:08.2 +2:08.0  
5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 1:33:09.9 +2:09.7  
6 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 1:33:40.0 +2:39.8  
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:33:53.8 +2:53.8  
8 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 1:34:04.4 +3:04.2  
9 H. Solberg / I. Minor 1:34:32.6 +3:32.4  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 1:34:43.6 +3:43.4  

15:00 (CEST)

Séb pulls ahead – Latvala makes it to the finish.

No-one has been able to match his performance today: Sébastien Ogier secured another best time on the 15th special stage (Baranowo 1) and has now increased his lead over Andreas Mikkelsen by 2.3 seconds to a total of 19 seconds. The second-placed Norwegian gave it everything but just couldn't keep up with the world champion's pace.

Jari-Matti Latvala was forced to grit his teeth when he started his car with makeshift repairs after crashing on the previous special stage. The damaged suspension left the front left damper protruding from the bonnet while he was driving, meaning that the Polo R WRC was without suspension there and the front skirt was almost scraping along the ground on the affected side. Latvala made the best of it but ended up losing more than one and a half minutes to the leaders and fell back to seventh place in the overall standings. In the upcoming service break Latvala's mechanics will have the chance to spruce up the Polo for the second pass this evening.

As a result, Juho Hänninen (Hyundai) is now in third place overall, behind Mikkelsen and leader Ogier.


14:25 (CEST)

Séb back in the lead thanks to credited time.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala hoping for lunchtime service.

 

Special Stage 14 really jumbled the rankings at the top. However some changes were reversed as a result of decisions made by the stewards.


What hasn't changed is that Mads Østberg (Citroën) and Elfyn Evans (Ford) are out of the rally after accidents. Kris Meeke's (Citroën) loss of time due to tyre damage also remains. Both events also affected other teams. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) stopped briefly at the site of Østberg's accident, which resulted in him taking more than 18 seconds longer to complete the special stage than team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). However, the stewards retroactively deducted 21 seconds from the world champion's driving time. This sees Ogier remain in the lead.


Elsewhere warnings from marshals caused some of the drivers to reduce their speed. The officials also investigated these incidents retroactively and some of the driving times of the drivers affected were adjusted.


Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2), however, won't be receiving any help from the stewards. The Finn permanently damaged the suspension shortly after overtaking Kris Meeke who was driving slowly. Latvala made it to the finish line of Special Stage 14 and then used his toolkit to carry out emergency repairs. His aim is to master the upcoming fifteenth special stage (14.90 kilometres) as best he can and then make it to the next service. “We're going to try to defend as much of our 30-second advantage over Juho Hänninen as possible.”

You can find all the results here.


12:50 (CEST)

Total chaos and a provisional change at the top.

There was plenty of action on the 35-kilometre special stage “Goldap”: At first it looked like Sébastien Ogier was heading for a clear special stage victory. The world champion was extremely fast but was forced to reduce his speed just before the finish line since the track was blocked by Mads Østberg's stranded Citroën DS3. The Norwegian flipped his car after coming into contact with a stone. Fortunately both the driver and co-driver went unscathed.

This incident saw Andreas Mikkelsen take the best time. The Volkswagen driver regained the lead in the overall standings after Ogier lost more than 18 seconds – however, since he was obstructed by Østberg's damaged car it is more than likely that the stewards will credit the lost time.

Jari-Matti Latvala was unlucky: The Finn tried to avoid Østberg's Citroën but in doing so also hit a stone and damaged his front right damper – resulting in a bitter delay of 32 seconds. A blessing in disguise: Østberg's retirement saw Latvala move up to third place in the overall standings.


11:25 (CEST)

Clear message from the world champion.

With a best time on the 13th special stage (Babki 1), Sébastien Ogier has extended his lead over his team-mate and pursuer Andreas Mikkelsen by a further 4.1 seconds. The gap in the overall standings is now at 14.2 seconds. “A good special stage for us. This section was much more relaxing to drive than the last one,” reported Séb at the finish.

Jari-Matti Latvala drove the second fastest time, but Mads Østberg (Citroën) defended well and finished just 0.4 seconds behind the Finn. The battle for third place is still on. Will the following special stage “Goldap” see a decisive turn of events? At just over 35 kilometres, this section that will be driven a second time this evening is the longest at the Rally Poland.


10:00 (CEST)

Easy come, easy go.

He was so close. A slight error at a junction during the twelfth special stage (Stare Juchy 1) cost Mikkelsen more than twelve seconds. The Volkswagen driver missed the turn-off and had to reverse his Polo R WRC.

It was Sébastien Ogier who benefited from this slip-up, and his lead has now increased to just over 10 seconds. However, the world champion also made a mistake on this special stage and missed out on the best time by 3.2 seconds. The quickest man was Citroën driver Mads Østberg, who is still in third place overall.


08:45 (CEST)

A very tight field.

The thrilling team duel enters the next round: Only half a second separates the two Volkswagen drivers Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall standings now. Mikkelsen secured the best time on the eleventh special stage (Chmielewo 1) – but Ogier took just 0.4 seconds longer to complete the short section of just under seven kilometres.

Jari-Matti Latvala in fourth place overall has made it his mission to seize third place and has started to pursue Mads Østberg (Citroën). The gap currently stands at 12.9 seconds – third place is well within reach of the Finn in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2.


Saturday: the special stages of the second day.

06:00 (CEST)

Friday, 27.06.2014


Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen are embroiled in a head-to-head race for first place at the Rally Poland. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (23)
23:46 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after ten of 24 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 47:22.4    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 47:23.3 +0.9  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 47:41.9 +19.5  
4 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 47:54.4 +32.0  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 48:02.4 +40.0  
6 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 48:09.2 +46.8  
7 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 48:29.2 +1:06.8  
8 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 48:38.5 +1:16.1  
9 E. Evans / D. Barritt 48:43.8 +1:21.4  
10 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 48:45.2 +1:22.8  

23:30 (CEST)

“Tomorrow is the penultimate day.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Obviously, I’m more than happy with today’s outcome. Julien and I are in the lead – albeit only just, with our teammates Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene right behind us. Tomorrow is the penultimate day of Rally Poland and I’m looking forward to engaging in a great duel with Andreas. But as far as the WRC is concerned, it’s just as important for me to finish ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. It’s a shame for the fans that the afternoon stages had to be cancelled, but the organisers made the right decision. The track conditions were very bad – there were deep furrows in the tracks and they were crumbling. Already this morning, there were some sections that were barely passable because they were wet from the night and the morning mist. You can see on the photos that a tractor would probably have been more use than a rally car.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“After yesterday, we changed our vehicle set-up, which allowed us to advance a bit and we gradually improved. This is a good basis for us to build on over the next few days and gives us the chance to fight for a podium position. My teammates Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier are really fast and we definitely can’t beat them. But I’m in the middle of a fight with Mads Østberg for third place. We need to bear in mind that the points aren’t dished out until the end of the rally – and we definitely want to pick up some points in order to increase our chances overall in the WRC.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“We’re enjoying every metre of this rally. Ola and I even have beaming smiles on our faces at some points during the special stages because driving here in Poland is hugely enjoyable. These are my kind of special stage, I’ve been hitting a good line and our pace notes are accurate. I have a lot of self-confidence and I can’t really go much faster than I did today. But we also know that there’s still a lot of the rally to go and that we need to keep our wits about us. The duel with my teammate Sébastien Ogier is fantastic and I’m sure it’s very entertaining for the fans too. But we will continue to try to drive cleanly and not take too many risks.”


09:45 (CEST)

Team-mate takes the lead:

Mikkelsen narrowly ahead of Ogier again.

After the first special stage on Friday, the battle of the team-mates at Volkswagen Motorsport goes on: Andreas Mikkelsen drove the best time on the Wieliczki 1 section. He outperformed Sébastien Ogier, who started the day as the overall leader, by 3.2 seconds, which sees him take the lead again.

Pleasing: Today is going much better for Jari-Matti Latvala, who struggled with tuning problems with his Polo R WRC yesterday. The man from Finland was the sixth fastest to cross the line, trailing by just 3.1 seconds.


Friday: the special stages of the first day.

06:00 (CEST)


23:00 (CEST)

Less is more as they say. In this specific case you can say that less track is more tyre tread. Special stages seven and eight being cancelled at short notice was no doubt frustrating for the fans at the track, but it suited the cars. 30.89 kilometres of the original 335.10 kilometres of special stages at the Rally Poland were scratched, which is almost ten percent. And just over 30 kilometres fewer of gravel certainly eases the wear on the tyres.

 

And it doesn't stop there: The leading duo Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) are not likely to resent the reduction. After all it gives the competition fewer chances to catch the Volkswagen drivers. You could therefore summarize: Fewer kilometres to the finish line equals more chance of victory in the seventh of a total of 13 rallies this year.


22:45 (CEST)

“It's an honour to be fighting the world champion for the lead.”

 

The battle between Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen promises to be thrilling.

 

Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) may have regained the lead with a best time on the final special stage on Friday, but the starting order of the second leg was already determined before this super special stage. At that point team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) was slightly in the lead. Which is why the Norwegian will have the advantage of the best starting position on Saturday – all the other top drivers will start before him.


“It's a totally new experience for me, to be able to use Séb's split times as a guide,” said Mikkelsen at the end of the leg in Mikołajki, which he reached just 0.9 seconds behind Ogier. The lead went back and forth between the Norwegian and the Frenchman on Friday. “It's an honour to be fighting the world champion for the lead,” said Mikkelsen.


Ogier returned the praise. “Andreas showed a strong performance today. It's by no means going to be easy to defend the lead or even extend it on Saturday.” Even though only 59 kilometres of special stage were driven on Friday after two special stages were cancelled and another one was reduced, the Frenchman enjoyed the high-speed tracks in Poland and Lithuania. “They were so much fun.”


Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) wasn't quite as happy when he returned to the service park late on in the evening. Trailing by 32 seconds, the Finn is fourth as it stands at the moment. After rebuilding the chassis Latvala has at least regained some of his confidence. “The realistic goal for Saturday is to overtake Mads Østberg.” He trails the Citroën driver by 12.5 seconds, who in turn trails leader Ogier by 18.9 seconds. With just under 162 kilometres of special stages, Saturday is the longest day of the Rally Poland. This will see the next round of the battle between Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen.


22:25 (CEST)

Ogier remains king of the arena.

Just like at the end of Thursday, the drivers took to the Super Special Stage in the Mikołajki Arena once again on Friday evening – this time in the dark. In these difficult conditions world champion Sébastien Ogier demonstrated his exceptional talent yet again. The Volkswagen driver clearly outpaced the competition on the 2.50-kilometre circuit.

 

With a time of 1:46.9 minutes, Ogier in the Polo R WRC #1 was exactly 1.9 seconds quicker than Andreas Mikkelsen (#9) and 2.9 seconds quicker than Jari-Matti Latvala (#2). And of course the result on Special Stage 10 of the Rally Poland means another change at the top: After 47:22.4 minutes of driving, Ogier heads into Saturday with a minimal advantage of 0.9 seconds over team-mate Mikkelsen – the excitement isn't over yet.

 


19:50 (CEST)

Mikkelsen takes first chance after the break: Norway in the lead.

 


After the extended lunch break due to special stages seven and eight being cancelled, the rally drivers took to Special Stage Wielczki this evening for the second time. The 12.89-kilometre segment was won by Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen this morning – and the Norwegian was also unbeatable the second time around.

 

Mikkelsen in the Polo R WRC #9 won the special stage in 5:39.0 minutes, ahead of his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala (+2.2 seconds) and Sébastien Ogier (+2.5 seconds). With this the back and forth at the top of the overall standings enters the next round: With a time of 45:34.5 minutes, Mikkelsen now leads ahead of world champion Ogier again – the mini advantage is exactly one second. Latvala is lurking in fourth place.

 


15:20 (CEST)

Special Stages seven and eight cancelled.


The seventh and eighth special stages of the Rally Poland (Kapciamiestis-Lithuania 2 and Margionys-Lithuania 2) have been cancelled as a safety precaution since the track is extremely soft after earlier showers. On top of this, too many spectators were not at a safe distance from the track.


14:45 (CEST)

Ogier is through the worst.

In the afternoon starting first will become an advantage for the leader.

The duel between Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WEC #1) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) defined the first guest appearance in Lithuania in the 41-year history of the World Rally Championship. At the lunch break in Druskininkai only 1.5 seconds separated the two Volkswagen drivers, Mads Østberg (Citroën) was already 15.2 seconds behind.


Friday morning went better than expected for Ogier. “As usual when I have to start a gravel rally first, my plan was to stay as close to the leader as possible. The fact that I am the one in the lead is ideal,” said the Frenchman summing up the morning's three special stages.


“I'm lucky that my starting position is only a slight disadvantage on the extremely soft ground here. On Special Stage 6 the track was damp in places, which is where I probably even had an advantage.” It was exactly here that Ogier snatched the lead from team-mate Mikkelsen. “And that was despite me being extremely cautious in some large puddles.”


The Norwegian fears that he won't be able to match the world champion in the afternoon. “The track is already breaking up quite a lot in many places. It will only get worse in the second pass on the special stages. That gives Séb the advantage as the first to take to the track. But I am definitely going to try not to let him get too far ahead.”


Mikkelsen has a special tactic for this. “I keep away from the ruts on the straights,” he revealed. “The sand is already so deep in the ruts that you sometimes go slower, even when the track is straight.” This strategy doesn't work in the bends though. “In the bends you need to stay in the ruts, otherwise you will come off the track.”


While his two team-mates are staging an exciting battle for the lead, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) still hasn't quite found the right rhythm. “The suspension set-up is still anything but optimal,” said the Finn. “But I'm the biggest problem. I'm sure I need to work on my motivation more than on my car.”


Maybe the double espresso that Latvala requested for the lunch break will help. On the plus side he has worked his way up to fourth place in the course of the morning.


Classification after 6 of 24 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 39:54.0    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 39:55.5 +1.5  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 40:09.2 +15.2  
4 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 40:23.4 +29.4  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 40:30.0 +36.0  
6 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 40:32.4 +38.4  
7 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 40:53.7 +59.7  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 40:55.8 +1:01.8  
9 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak 41:06.0 +1:12.0  
10 E. Evans / D. Barritt 41:07.8 +1:13.8  

13:25 (CEST)

The ping-pong match for the lead enters the next round.

It's back and forth at the top of the overall standings: With a best time on the sixth special stage (Margionys-Lithuania 1), Sébastien Ogier has edged past Andreas Mikkelsen once again and regained the lead in the table. However, it was another close call as Mikkelsen only needed 1.6 seconds more than the Frenchman to complete the course that covers almost 18 kilometres.

Ogier was confident as he crossed the line: “Another good stage for us, even if it was a little bit tricky in the forest.” Jari-Matti Latvala, who at least managed the third fastest time on this special stage, has clearly given up all hope of winning the Rally Poland: “I'm no longer fighting to win. We now need to make sure that we finish in the best possible position. Our new target is to finish in the top five.”


12:35 (CEST)

Welcome to Lithuania.

The Rally Poland takes a trip to Lithuania. The first special stage to be driven there (Kapciamiestis-Lithuania 1) was a close call: World champion Sébastien Ogier narrowly missed out on the best time. The Frenchman took just 0.5 seconds longer than Citroën driver Mads Østberg on the section reduced to 12.92 kilometres. Andreas Mikkelsen was third fastest, with Jari-Matti Latvala slotting in just behind him to finish fourth on this special stage.

In the overall standings the duel between Mikkelsen and Ogier is hotting up: Mikkelsen's lead is now extremely narrow, at just a tenth of a second. The gap between him and Østberg, currently in third place, is slightly larger at 8.7 seconds.

Thursday, 26.06.2014


The Volkswagen Motorsport drivers are looking forward to the Rally Poland. The video.


Aktuelle Bilder (18)
19:10 Uhr (MESZ)


Classification after three of 24 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 17:49.2    
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene 17:52.0 +2.8  
3 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 17:56.2 +7.0  
4 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 17:57.0 +7.8  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 17:58.1 +8.9  
6 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 18:10.3 +21.1  
7 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 18:12.4 +23.2  
8 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 18:12.7 +23.5  
9 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen 18:18.6 +29.4  
10 M. Prokop / J. Tománek 18:20.2 +31.0  

23:00 (CEST)

Let’s hope things continue like that.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I really put the pedal to the metal right from the start today. I had a good pace and I had a lot of confidence in my pace notes. On tracks like the ones here in particular, that can make a big difference, because the stages here around Mikołajki are incredibly fast. I really pushed myself and am now in the lead, in spite of my starting position. Overall, Julien and I have got off to a great start in Rally Poland. Let’s hope things continue like that.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Obviously, I’m not happy with today’s result, but there’s still a lot of the rally left to go and nothing has been decided yet. I simply lacked the confidence to really attack today – and I’m not all that happy with my car’s set-up. So we will be working on that tonight during the service. And tomorrow’s another day.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I had a great start to Rally Poland, but it was anything but easy. I must have made a mistake in my pace notes during the first stage and slammed on the brakes in the middle of a straight. I could also have been a bit faster in the second stage, and I was initially taking the crests very carefully. But on the whole I’m very happy with my driving style and I hit a clean line today.”


22:00 (CEST)

The drivers have day one of the Rally Poland behind them – and world champion Sébastien Ogier is in the lead. You could also say that Volkswagen Motorsport has a 1-0 lead over their competitors after the first three special stages – the same result that the German national football team got in their decisive World Cup group match against the USA.

The schedule of the Rally Poland was timed perfectly so that Special Stage 2 finished shortly before 18:00 CEST, just in time for kick-off in Recife. Special Stage 3 started at 20:05 CEST, shortly after the final whistle. Meaning that the team from Hanover could, at least in theory, follow the DFB team's game and celebrate the German group victory.

On Monday evening at 22:00 CEST, national coach Joachim Löw's chosen team will play in the round of sixteen at the World Cup. Before that Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen hope to have reason to celebrate: At the Rally Poland they can score three more goals for Volkswagen Motorsport on Friday, Saturday and Sunday after the 1-0 on Thursday through Ogier's victory on the first day.


21:30 (CEST)

Team battle with new participants.

 

This time Sébastien Ogier takes on Andreas Mikkelsen for the lead.

 

World champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) fighting one of his team-mates for the lead is nothing new. What is unusual however is that his opponent this time around is Volkswagen junior Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). “t couldn't have gone better,” said Ogier joyfully after seizing the lead after a superior best time on the final special stage on Thursday. “I was really at the limit. I think the deciding factor on this ultra-fast course was that I put my trust in my notes.”

 

After the first three special stages, the world champion leads the Rally Poland 2.8 seconds ahead of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). “I'm very happy with the start,” said the Norwegian, who temporarily took the lead after Special Stage 2. “I'm confident enough to go for the full attack.”

 

However, Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) didn't get off to the start he had hoped for. “I got the chassis tuning completely wrong,” said the man from Finland, explaining the reason for his loss of time on the first two special stages. “The positive is that I know what I need to change for Friday.”

 

Irrespective of that, Latvala was visibly relieved to have mastered the Super Special Stage “Arena Mikołajki” without any problems. “In 2009 I threw away second place just a few metres before the finish line,” he said remembering the self-proclaimed “darkest day of my career.” Latvala drove the second fastest time on the artificially created track within view of the service park and heads into the overnight break in eighth place overall.


21:05 (CEST)

Ogier flies through the dust.

 

It was dusty and the sun was low in the sky – very difficult conditions dominated the third of a total of 24 special stages at the Rally Poland, the Super Special Stage Mikolajki Arena 1. Only a few tenths of a seconds separated the top drivers on the 2.50-kilometre circuit, with just one of them standing out: world champion Sébastien Ogier.

 

With a time of 1:48.4 minutes, the Volkswagen driver in the Polo R WRC #1 was an incredible 2.7 seconds quicker than Jari-Matti Latvala (#2), who was the second fastest to cross the finish line. Andreas Mikkelsen also achieved a fast time, taking exactly half a second longer than Latvala and finished sixth.

 

World champion Ogier climbed to the top of the overall standings once again at the end of the first day with a time of 17:49.2 minutes, ahead of team-mate Mikkelsen (+2.8 seconds). Kris Meeke follows in third place in the Citroën (+7.0 seconds). Latvala in position eight, who trails Meeke by around 15 seconds, is still in with a good chance of working his way up the field in the coming days.

 


18:00 (CEST)

Mikkelsen takes the lead at the Rally Poland.

 

Poland seems to be good terrain for Andreas Mikkelsen so far: On the second special stage (Kruklanki 1) he drove a great best time and outperformed his team-mate Sébastien Ogier by 0.9 seconds. This saw Andreas take the lead in the overall standings. “That feels good. At the start of the stage we were still a bit cautious, but then things kept getting better. I'm really pleased,” said the Volkswagen driver in the Polo R WRC #9 summing up the stage.

 

For Jari-Matti Latvala, who lost more than ten seconds once again, things are anything but good. The man from Finland reported coordination problems with the car at the finish and is now hoping for better results in the coming special stages.

 


17:20 (CEST)

The high-speed chase gets underway in Poland:
Séb starts with best time.

 

The opening of the Rally Poland went to plan for Sébastien Ogier: No-one was quicker than the Frenchman in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1 on the 14.54-kilometre section Milki 1, the first of 24 special stages. The world champion's brief summary at the finish line: “A nice special stage, very quick – as expected. I really enjoyed being in the car.” We don't doubt it Séb.


Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala didn't have quite as much fun, who finished 11.6 seconds behind the leader. “Not a great start to the rally,” said a visibly disappointed Jari-Matti at the finish. “Séb must have driven really strongly. I wasn't confident enough to go on full attack just yet to be honest. It was too slippery for me and I didn't have the feel of the track.”


By his own admission Andreas Mikkelsen, who finished second fastest and with a 0.5 second deficit was just a blink of an eye behind Ogier, could have done better: “I misunderstood one of my co-driver's instructions and switched back from sixth to fifth gear on one of the long straights, which cost us about two seconds,” said the Norwegian.


The top three after the first special stage: Ogier leads ahead of Mikkelsen, Citroën driver Kris Meeke is in third.

 


12:00 (CEST)

Latvala fastest in the shakedown.

Volkswagen drivers expect difficult rally in Poland.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) set the best time in the shakedown ahead of the Rally Poland. “I tried out various settings for the shock absorbers and springs. I also wanted to prepare for the high speed here after the comparatively slow Rally Italy. That's why I drove the shakedown four times,” said the man from Finland.


Team-mate Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) on the other hand stuck to the mandatory two passes. Saving his tyres is the priority of the world champion, who will have to take to the track first on Thursday and Friday since he is currently top of the table. “Fortunately the disadvantage here isn't as great as it is at other gravel rallies. If it rains I will even have an advantage,” said the Frenchman looking ahead; he drove the fourth quickest time in the shakedown.


Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) finished the free practice one place better off after three passes. “The nature of the special stages suits my driving style. They are mostly very quick with smooth combinations of bends,” said the Norwegian.


Like his team-mates, Mikkelsen welcomes the shortening of a special stage in Lithuania. “We would have had to drive long distances in sixth gear on a narrow forest track between very dense trees. It would have been extremely dangerous, particularly if the track was wet.”


All three Volkswagen drivers are expecting the rally to be difficult. “The special stages require a lot of change in rhythm,” described Jari-Matti Latvala. “You often drive long straights at top speed. Between these there are many sections that are full of bends on extremely narrow roads with lots of bends that aren't visible. After inspecting the course at a reduced speed it is difficult to predict how it will feel at race speed.”


Thursday: the special stages of the first day.

09:00 (CEST)

Previews

Friday, 20.06.2014


“The fans in Poland are crazy about rallies.”

Statements from the Volkswagen team.


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.”


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. 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.”


A classic makes a comeback.

Rally Poland returns to the WRC fold for the first time since 2009. And the Volkswagen drivers have some scores to settle there.

Having first been held in 1921, Rally Poland is not only the world’s second-oldest rally that’s still going – it was also one of the founding members of the new world championship established in 1973. It lost its high-ranking status for a while, however, before making just one reappearance in the WRC in 2009. But Rally Poland is now back again, and the seventh event of the 2014 WRC season will take place in and around the holiday resort of Mikołajki next weekend.


The rally – which is a first in that it will travel across two countries, Poland and Lithuania – is terra incognita for Volkswagen Motorsport. The team has carried out extensive tests with a view to extending its current series of victories, which now comprises ten WRC rallies.


Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s drivers are indeed familiar with this gravel event, having all participated back in 2009 – but they have mixed feelings about it. Five years ago, none of them – Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1), Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) – made it to the finishing line. “So you could say we have a score to settle in Poland,” says the reigning world champion Ogier jokingly.


The Frenchman arrives in Mikołajki as the current overall leader, which means that for the first leg at least, he will be in the unenviable front position and will have to serve as the ‘road sweeper’. “We were in this position at the last WRC rally in Sardinia, but we managed to win all the same. And we will do everything we can to replicate that success.”


Ogier’s teammate Latvala, who is currently ranked second overall, isn’t much better off. “The stages are very fast with lots of hilltops, much like at home for me in Finland. But the surface in Poland is much sandier and softer.”


Andreas Mikkelsen is looking forward to the atmosphere in particular. “The incredible numbers of spectators in 2009 resulted in a great atmosphere back then. And this time, former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica is competing too, which is bound to ratchet up the spectators’ enthusiasm even more.”


Rally Poland starts unusually early in Mikołajki, at 16:00 on Thursday afternoon. And between then and 14:00 on Sunday, a total of 23 special stages measuring just under 360 kilometres will be contested – with four of them being held in Lithuania on Friday.