FIA World Rally Championship

Mikkelsen leads Rally Poland after the thrilling first day

2 Mins read
Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT driver Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen are currently leading the 80th ORLEN Rally Poland after the first full day which was packed with thrilling fight for the top between several drivers and drama with spectators.

Mikkelsen’s form was a pleasant surprise. He had competed in two tarmac rallies earlier in the season for the team, where the results were not the greatest. However, on the Polish gravel roads, the Norwegian’s speed in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car has been on a different level. Mikkelsen holds currently quite a narrow 1.8-second lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanperä. Rovanperä, who received a last-minute call to join the rally after Sébastien Ogier had to retire due to a pre-event accident on recce, had to concede some time on the morning loop but increased his pace in the afternoon loop. Toyota’s Elfyn Evans is also close to the lead, just 0.2 seconds behind Rovanperä in third.

The rally’s biggest favourite, Hyundai’s Ott Tänak who showed great pace in the shakedown, was forced to retire on the morning’s first special stage as he hit a deer, resulting in damage to the front of the car, including a broken radiator but the Estonian will be restarting the rally on Saturday morning as the car is repairable.

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

The biggest surprise of the day was the M-Sport Ford WRT newcomer Mārtiņš Sesks, competing for the first time in a Rally1 car with the first-ever non-hybrid Ford Puma Rally1 car the Latvian is impressively in fifth overall with teammate Adrien Fourmaux just ahead of him in fourth place. Their teammate Grégoire Munster is in seventh place.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was the first car out on the road during the whole day but the Belgian couldn’t match the speed to the cars behind him and he is currently half a minute back on teammate Mikkelsen. The last Rally1 car in the top 10 is Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta in eight. Rounding up the remaining two spots in the top 10 are the WRC2 leader Sami Pajari and the local star Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

The spectators showed a less positive side on Friday. Two of the day’s seven special stages had to be cancleed entirely and several red flagged but restarted again after only a few cars due to spectators standing in dangerous viewing places.

Top 10 after day one

Pos.Driver / Co-driverNat.CarTeamTime
1.Andreas Mikkelsen / Torstein EriksenNorwayHyundai i20 N Rally1 HybridHyundai Shell Mobis WRT59:43.7
2.Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne HalttunenFinlandToyota GR Yaris Rally1 HybridToyota Gazoo Racing WRT+ 1.8
3.Elfyn Evans / Scott MaritnUnited KingdomToyota GR Yaris Rally1 HybridToyota Gazoo Racing WRT+ 2.0
4.Adrien Fourmaux / Alexandre CoriaFranceFord Puma Rally1 HybridM-Sport Ford WRT+ 7.5
5.Mārtiņš Sesks / Renārs FrancisLatviaFord Puma Rally1M-Sport Ford WRT+ 7.7
6.Grégoire Munster / Louis LoukaLuxembourg / BelgiumFord Puma Rally1 HybridM-Sport Ford WRT+ 21.3
7.Thierry Neuville / Martijn WydaegheBelgiumHyundai i20 N Rally1 HybridHyundai Shell Mobis WRT+ 29.8
8.Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron JohnstonJapan / IrelandToyota GR Yaris Rally1 HybridToyota Gazoo Racing WRT+ 32.3
9.Sami Pajari / Enni MälkönenFinlandToyota GR Yaris Rally2Printsport+ 2:15.6
10.Kajetan Kajetanowicz / Maciej SzczepaniakPolandŠkoda Fabia RS Rally2Kajetan Kajetanowicz+ 2:24.5

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