Victory battle intensifies in Poland as Neuville retains lead

Hyundai Motorsport has two cars in provisional podium positions at the end of the penultimate day of Rally Poland, round eight of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
After numerous lead changes throughout the day, Thierry Neuville heads the classification by 3.1 seconds from M-Sport’s Ott Tanak
Hayden Paddon has moved up to third overall after a positive Saturday in which he scored three more stage wins. Dani Sordo rounds out the top-five.

Rally Poland Day Two
1 July 2017

Mikolajki, Poland

July 1, 2017 – Hyundai Motorsport is embroiled in a tantalisingly close fight for victory after another dramatic and exciting day at Rally Poland, the eighth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Thierry Neuville has marginally extended his overall lead of the rally to 3.1 seconds from M-Sport’s Ott Tanak, with 25.5 seconds separating the Belgian from his Kiwi team-mate Hayden Paddon, who has moved up to third.

All three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews are firmly inside the top-five with Dani Sordo holding fifth. The positions alone don’t tell the full story of a day where the lead changed hands on four separate occasions, with plenty of drama up and down the field.

Trading places

Saturday’s itinerary took in a loop of four stages, run once in the morning and again in the afternoon. The day culminated, as on Friday, with a Super Special at the Mikolajki Arena.

A steady start for the Hyundai Motorsport crews saw Neuville relinquish control of the rally mid-way through the opening loop. He fought back with a stage win in SS14 (Kruklanki) to end the morning with a narrow 1.3-second advantage.

Paddon also picked up a stage win in the morning loop before adding two more in the afternoon. Drama for Jari-Matti Latvala saw the Kiwi move up to third after SS16 (Pozezdrze) as Neuville and Tanak hit trouble.

Neuville dropped 15 seconds of time with a rear-left puncture, which caused bodywork damage, leaving him with work to do. As Tanak battled his own problems, the Belgian crew claimed second in SS17 (Goldap) and first in SS18 (Kruklanki) to regain the outright lead, which they extended to 3.1 seconds after the evening’s Super Special.

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

Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul had to fight hard to keep hold of their Rally Poland lead on Saturday, facing stiff opposition from Ott Tanak. As the crews switched places during the day, SS16 proved a pivotal moment. A rear left puncture lost the Belgians time – and the lead – but with Tanak also struggling, the #5 crew overturned a 15-second deficit in style, to move back in command.

Neuville commented: “It has been a pretty intense day, one way or another. We had a solid morning loop and it was developing into a fun, close battle at the front. We lost the lead in the first stages but gained it back with a big push in SS14 (Kruklanki). It was almost a pointless loop because we held the same lead at the end as we did at the start! We were determined not to give up, so we pushed hard when we could and started the afternoon with a stage win. Unfortunately, we then picked up a rear-left puncture that cost us a lot of seconds in SS16 (Pozezdrze). Ott was also suffering with his own issues, so we had to use that opportunity to make up the lost time. In the penultimate stage, it started to rain a lot on our run and we struggled, we were really unlucky. Thankfully, we still set the fastest time and retook the lead. We don’t have a huge time advantage so we won’t be able to take it easy on Sunday. The win is still very much open and I am sure Ott will be hunting us down.”

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

Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall arguably enjoyed the most competitive and trouble-free day of any of the WRC crews. The Anglo-Kiwi pairing picked up three stage wins in total, and benefitted from Jari-Matti Latvala’s retirement to move into the podium positions. With a healthy gap to Sébastien Ogier in fourth, they will be seeking their first top-three finish of 2017 on Sunday.

Paddon said: “We have had far better conditions today, especially this morning, and that gave us a more even playing field and more confidence in the car. We could really set about getting down to business and just enjoying the driving. We took a stage win in Goldap and were looking solid in fourth place with big margins ahead and behind us. We were focused only on securing that position, which would be so important for the championship. We added two more stage wins in the afternoon and moved up into third overall after Jari-Matti’s problem. I am sorry for him, but at the same time I am happy to have the chance for a podium here, which would be an unexpected, but very welcome result.”

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

Sordo and Marc Martí have been involved in a close fight with Sébastien Ogier throughout Saturday, with the reigning World Champion ending the day some 11 seconds ahead. The Spaniards are comfortably inside the top-five, which gives Hyundai Motorsport a strong hand heading into Sunday.

Sordo said: “We were able to stretch our legs a bit today with improved stage conditions and more confidence in the car. We were able to push flat out in some stages. It was fun being in close competition with Ogier. We managed to get past him towards the end of the morning loop, and did all we could to defend the position. The final two stages were not as good. I made a big mistake in a hairpin in SS17 (Goldap), which cost us time, and then towards the end of SS18 (Kruklanki) we picked up a puncture. We were lucky it was at the end of the stage, really. There is still everything to play for on Sunday.”

Stage might

On a competitive day for Hyundai Motorsport, the team scored a total of six consecutive stage wins (SS13-18), split evenly between Neuville and Paddon, including three stage 1-2s. With ten wins registered across the 18 stages contested so far this weekend, it equals the team’s most successful rally in terms of stage wins, matching its performance in Sardinia 2016, where the team was triumphant.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We have set ourselves up nicely for the final four stages of the rally. Our objective this weekend has been to register a strong joint team result and we need to ensure we keep hold of our current positions. Thierry and Nicolas have worked exceptionally hard to defend and reclaim their lead today. It’s immensely close at the front so it will come down to the smallest of margins. Hayden and Seb have had a great day with multiple stage wins and they positioned themselves perfectly to capitalise on any misfortune. A double podium is now on the cards this weekend, which would be a fantastic result, especially if we could finish first and third. Dani and Marc are also in a good position, just 11 seconds behind Ogier. This one is too close and too unpredictable to call at the moment – but it’s definitely exciting!”

Sunday at a glance

Four stages make up the final day of Rally Poland, which are run over a total competitive distance of 59.66km.

The brand new 11.15km Orzysz stage gets things underway at 8.10am local time followed by the 18.68km Paprotki stage.

The two tests will be repeated to bring the rally to its conclusion with Paprotki 2 acting as the Power Stage, with the top-five finishers receiving extra Drivers’ Championship points.

Overall Classification after Day Two

1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2:10:26.3
2 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja Ford Fiesta WRC +3.1
3 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +25.5
4 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +1:32.0
5 D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:43.8
6 T. Suninen M. Markkula Ford Fiesta WRC +2:06.2
7 S. Lefebvre G. Moreau Citroën C3 WRC +2:20.3
8 M. Østberg O. Floene Ford Fiesta WRC +2:45.8
9 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +3:23.1
10 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Citroën C3 WRC +3:34.6










Media Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Admin and Translation:

All The Best, Pablito, Pablo MACHI WRC
Rally Report Magazine Argentina
Photos: @World Media Agency / Portugal
Media Hyundai Motorsport GmbH



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.