Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Tanak leads the Super Special Match

Hyundai's Ott Tanak took the lead in Rally Poland, overtaking his teammate and World Rally Championship general classification leader Thierry Neuville in the primary stage of the race on Thursday evening.

Poland's return to the WRC for the primary time since 2017 began with a run across the adjoining Mikołajki Arena spectator stage in front of a packed audience.

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Tanak faced Adrien Fourmaux from M-Sport in a direct duel, beating the Frenchman by 1.9 seconds. The time was so good that he won the stage with a bonus of 1 second over Neuville, who beat Elfyn Evans from Toyota by 0.3 p.

“I like these roads, but they are not easy at all, everything has to be in place,” said Tanak at the top of the stage, looking forward to Friday's race. “You have to have complete trust in everything around you so that we can find out how we feel tomorrow.”

Evans set the third fastest time, 0.3 seconds faster than his Toyota teammate Takamoto Katsuta.

Andreas Mikkelsen, starting for the third time within the season within the third Hyundai i20 N, finished the stage in fifth place [+1.8s] after defeating current world champion Kalle Rovanpera.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo: Toyota Racing

Fourmaux finished sixth [+1.9s] before Rovanpera [+2.1s]after being called up on the last minute to exchange Toyota team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who was forced to withdraw from the event following a road accident during a site survey on Tuesday.

Rovanpera, who only accomplished his reconnaissance of the competition today, believes it’s unimaginable to fight for victory after his hasty and limited preparations for the competition.

“I don’t think we can win, at least not in a sensible or safe way,” Rovanpera said. “It’s super annoying while you come here just to complete well, but while you go, it’s shit for those who don’t attempt to win.

“I'm not attempting to win this time, there's no point, we're late for every thing and tonight will likely be a really long evening [preparing for tomorrow’s stages]”So it won't be easy.”

M-Sport's Gregoire Munster was furious at the top of the stage after his Ford Puma had its windscreen damaged by gravel kicked up during his qualifier against Katsuta.

“When they [organisers] they said they would drain the water [on the gravel] they should do it properly because it's way too dry,” he said. “My windshield isn't completely damaged, but if there's an impact tomorrow, it'll be worse. It's stupid.”

Grégoire Munster, Louis Louka, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Grégoire Munster, Louis Louka, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo: M-Sport

Martins Sesks beat WRC2 runner Oliver Solberg to finish the Rally1 field on his class debut in a non-hybrid Ford Puma M-Sport.

Solberg won the WRC2 class despite losing outright wherein his Skoda's windscreen was also damaged by airborne gravel. Solberg was 1.6 seconds faster than his nearest WRC2 rival and Citroen driver Nikolay Gryazin, while Skoda's Gus Greensmith was third, 0.1 seconds behind Gryazin.

On Friday, the crews will face six gravel stages divided by a tire fitting zone.

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