Andreas Mikkelsen heads Hayden Paddon and Ott Tanak in a close early lead battle on Rally Poland.
Tanak made history when the day began as he put DMACK’s tyre into the lead of a World Rally Championship round for the first time by setting the pace on the short Chmielewo opener in his Ford.
Mikkelsen then restored Volkswagen superiority over the rest of the morning, but has not been able to escape from Tanak or Hyundai driver Paddon.
Tanak claimed a second stage win on SS4 to close back in on Mikkelsen, while it was Paddon who had the edge on the Stare Juchy stage that closed the loop. That brought Paddon up to second at Tanak’s expense, leaving them 2.6 seconds and 6s off Mikkelsen, respectively, heading for service.
With some dampness on the stages and places where the soft surface got worse for those running later, being first in the start order has been less depressing for Sebastien Ogier than usual. The championship leader is fourth but only 9.3s of the lead.
Thierry Neuville, pacesetter on Thursday evening’s superspecial, was unhappy with both his setup and pace notes as Friday began and has fallen back to fifth.
Jari-Matti Latvala sustained a puncture and hit a bird during the morning, but he admitted most of the deficit that has left him only sixth so far was down to him feeling out of sorts with his VW and the Polish stages – not for the first time on this rally. That lack of pace has put him under pressure from the drivers vying to impress Citroen this weekend.
Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre are head-to-head in the PH Sport-run cars in Poland for the first time, keen to state their case for a 2017 drive with Kris Meeke not entered this weekend.Both have begun well; Lefebvre holds a 3.6s advantage over Breen in seventh, just a tenth behind Latvala’s VW.
Eric Camilli is outperforming M-Sport teammate Mads Ostberg, who went off the road on the morning’s last stage, as they hold ninth and 10th.
The third Hyundai of Dani Sordo is an increasingly distant 11th, the Spaniard at a loss to explain his lack of speed.
LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS5:
|1||Andreas Mikkelsen, A.J.Synnevaag||Volkswagen Motorsport II||Volkswagen||30m55.1s|
|2||Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||2.6s|
|3||Ott Tanak, R.Molder||DMACK World Rally Team||Ford||6.0s|
|4||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||Volkswagen Motorsport||Volkswagen||9.3s|
|5||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||14.7s|
|6||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Volkswagen Motorsport||Volkswagen||20.1s|
|7||Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau||Abu Dhabi Total WRT||Citroen||20.2s|
|8||Craig Breen, S.Martin||Abu Dhabi Total WRT||Citroen||23.8s|
|9||Eric Camilli, B.Veillas||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||30.0s|
|10||Mads Ostberg, O.Floene||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||38.8s|
|11||Dani Sordo, M.Marti||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai||50.5s|
|12||Lorenzo Bertelli, S.Scattolin||FWRT s.r.l.||Ford||1m08.3s|