Day 1: Heavy rain makes life difficult for crews
Thierry and Nicolas hold a slender lead at the top of the Rally Poland classification after a challenging day in tricky conditions.
Heavy rain on Thursday, which forced the cancellation of the ceremonial start, continued into Friday. The result was an opening loop of muddy, slippery stages with unpredictable grip levels.
Nobody has had an easy run today, explained our Team Principal Michel. The morning loop gave the earlier runners a bit of an advantage but even then it was far from what we are used to in this rally.
Half century of stages
Our Belgian crew made the most of running second on the road to claim a confident stage win in SS2 (Chmielewo), which they followed up with another in SS5 (Stare Juchy). It was our 50th stage win of the season, but not the last as the #5 crew added two more during the afternoon!
It has been a good start, even if the conditions have been demanding, said Thierry. The fight for the lead has been close and I dont expect that to change. We are in a good position but there is a lot more to come from everyone and more surprises I am sure!
Our two other crews Hayden/Seb and Dani/Marc also ended the day in a positive manner.
Lunch changes everything
In their third rally together, Hayden and Seb were disadvantaged by a later road position, but they kept their cool. Changes to the car over lunchtime service helped them to set top-two stage times and secure fifth overall.
We expected very tricky, muddy conditions this morning, said Hayden. The grip was changing from one corner to the next. The changes at lunch transformed the car. Im hoping for better weather so we can enjoy these fast and fun stages. I am definitely not settling for fifth!
Dani and Marc set the second fastest time in SS8 (Swietajno 2), which was an important turnaround from their morning struggles.
I found the morning loop very difficult admitted Dani. I just could not get into a rhythm. Conditions improved in the afternoon and I had a better feeling. There is a long way to go. I am hoping for a more consistent Saturday.
Saturday will see crews tackle nine more stages over a total competitive distance of 144.74km the longest day of the event.
Overall Classification after Day One
1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 56:21.2
2 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja Ford Fiesta WRC +1.3
3 J.M Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +6.6
4 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +35.1
5 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +39.6
6 D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +51.7
7 T. Suninen M. Markkula Ford Fiesta WRC +1:11.0
8 J. Hänninen K. Lindstrom Toyota Yaris WRC +1:28.9
9 S. Lefebvre G. Moreau Citroën C3 WRC +1:37.0
10 M. Østberg O. Floene Ford Fiesta WRC +1:42.7