World Rally Championship

Neuville maintains his lead in the drivers’ standings after Rally Poland

Tanak dominates Super Sunday whilst Mikkelsen's rally-winning hopes end on the final day

Tanak dominates Super Sunday whilst Mikkelsen’s rally-winning hopes end on the final day

In a heartbreaking end to a stellar performance, Andreas Mikkelsen’s rally-winning hopes were punctured on the final day of Rally Poland, the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season.

The gripping fight for the lead looked set to continue across Sunday’s four final stages, totalling 63.06km of competitive distance: Gmina Mrągowo (SS16/18, 20.80km) and Mikołajki (SS17/19, 10.73km).

Yet it was on the very first test of Gmina Mrągowo where Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen’s storming run came to an end. As the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew sought to keep the rally leader under pressure, a tap with a bank took the right-rear tyre off the rim and caused a delamination that saw second place slip from their grasp. All was not lost, and a steady drive through the final three stages saw the Norwegians score the 15 points they had provisionally secured on Saturday.

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja left nothing on the table on their Super Sunday mission; despite being the first of the WRC cars on the road, the Estonians demonstrated incredible pace in their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid to score two stage wins, vaulting them to the top of Sunday’s standings. Second place in the penultimate stage saw their advantage narrow slightly, however their drive on the Power Stage – which confirmed a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 finish – secured them the top spot and 11 points.

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe were Hyundai Motorsport’s highest-placed crew in the final classification, finishing a fine fourth after a difficult event. Starting the day just a tenth of a second behind fifth place, the Belgians moved up to fourth overall by the end of the morning loop after their team-mates’ misfortune. A stage win on the final test, scoring maximum Power Stage points, was a final flourish on a challenging weekend for the crew.

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team continues to spearhead the manufacturers’ standings by ten points, with Neuville 15 points ahead in the drivers’ battle. Tänak is third, just six points behind second place, as the incredibly close fight now moves into the unknown with the next round, Rally Latvia, in July.

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Belgians recover to fourth overall in Poland
  • Power Stage victory marked Neuville’s third of event and increased points haul to 14

Neuville said: “Mission accomplished. We knew this event would be difficult for us, but we kept the motivation high. There was no reason to push more than what we felt comfortable with considering we were first on the road on Friday and didn’t have great conditions on Saturday. There was no real chance for us to work on the set-up so I just had to follow my gut and push hard for the Power Stage. We were balancing the risks we could take and the speed we needed to go, but in the end we take home some good points and look forward to what is to come.”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (#9 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Norwegians finish sixth after two days of fighting for first place
  • Crew led rally for seven stages in solid return to Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid

Mikkelsen said: “There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend. Had we not had the tyre off the rim, I think we could have kept the pressure on Kalle and be fighting for the podium. I felt we had a bit of bad luck as we had been using the banks tactically this rally to keep up the speed through the corners, but it is what it is. After that, it was just about getting the car to the finish to secure the points for the team.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Crew completes comeback to finish top of Super Sunday standings
  • Second place in Power Stage confirmed four additional points from difficult event

Tänak said: “We did everything we could today, but it is obviously a huge shame our weekend finished so early so we could not know where we could be. I’m sure we had the pace to compete, I had an OK feeling in the car and felt fine, so I am pretty sure the basis is there. Obviously, our road position for the past two days has made it difficult to make a conclusion; we need to carry on and hopefully improve a bit in between now and Latvia and see how we go there. ”

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:

“It is difficult to summarise a weekend like this where the most positive takeaway was the amazing pace Ott and Martin have shown today, as they fought to recover as many points as possible from Super Sunday. His stage this morning could very much go down in the history books of rallying. We cannot help but imagine what could have been if the opening stage of Friday had gone differently, and we hope we can all bounce back for upcoming similar rallies. Andreas was about to deliver exactly what we expect and need from our third car when a hard landing stopped his charge. He managed to secure his points from yesterday in a small consolation from the weekend. Thierry did the best he could from what was always going to be a challenging event and still leads the drivers’ standings; the whole team departs the event with renewed motivation to rebuild our advantage in the coming rallies. ”

Next rally

  • Featuring fast and smooth gravel roads, Rally Latvia will make its FIA WRC debut next month on July 18-21
  • Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak will be joined by Rally Sweden winner Esapekka Lappi in the third Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid.

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