Championship leader Sebastien Ogier finished day one of the World Rally Championship’s Rally Poland with a very narrow advantage of 2.8 seconds over team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.
Ogier set the initial pace with an opening stage win to go half a second faster than his team-mate.
Mikkelsen fought back on the following stage though to beat Ogier’s time to take the lead away from the reigning champion.
His lead however was short lived. Ogier claimed his second stage win of the event at the super special stage in the Mikolajki Arena to reclaim top spot.
“I was pushing hard on that last stage to get the lead,” admitted Ogier. “I am very happy with my start to the rally. I could not do any better until now. We have to continue at this high level.”
Citroen’s Kris Meeke currently occupies third place going into day two. Meeke has shown consistent form over the opening stages and puts some of his early success down to his co-driver.
“The nature of these roads is fantastic, the commitment is incredible,” said Meeke. “Paul (Nagle, Meeke’s co-driver) is calling the notes like he’s reading a Sunday paper.”
Hyundai’s Juho Hanninen also impressed on day one. He claimed only his third WRC stage victory and currently sits fourth just 0.8 seconds behind Meeke.
“I feel there is still room to improve my driving,” said Hanninen. “The car has been fantastic and I could get into a rhythm. To claim another stage win is great but our focus is to get through the stages and to accumulate data and information for the team.”
Mads Ostberg completes the top five, with the Hyundai’s of Thierry Neuville and Haydon Paddon behind.
Early favourite for the rally, Jarri-Matti Latvala, who topped the Thursday morning shakedown, couldn’t match the leaders speed over the opening two stages.
Latvala did however post the second fastest time on the super special stage to leave him 23.5s off the lead at the end of day one.
Mikko Hirvonen also struggled down the order in ninth while Martin Prokop’s back problems continue to be a problem as the ford privateer languished down in tenth.
On home soil the former Forumla One driver Robert Kubica, who was running fourth at the the time, rolled his M-Sport Ford Fiesta on the second stage.
Fortuately spectators were on hand to help the Pole which meant his mistake only cost him 28.3 seconds and left him down in 12th, 37.3s off Ogier
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen 17m49.2s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen +2.8s
3. Kris Meeke Citroen +7.0s
4. Juho Hanninen Hyundai +7.8s
5. Mads Ostberg Citroen +8.9s
6. Thierry Neuville Hyundai +21.1s
7. Hayden Paddon Hyundai +23.2s
8. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen +23.5s
9. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +29.4s
10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +31.0s