SS18: Ogier in pole position for win
Sébastien Ogier moved within touching distance of victory at 72nd LOTOS Rally Poland after stretching his lead over Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen to 8.1sec with one stage remaining.
He blasted his Polo R through the first pass over Baranowo 2.5sec faster than his colleague at an average speed of 126.26kph, and Mikkelsen acknowledged victory on this seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship was heading the Frenchman’s way.
“I knew I had to do my job, like always,” said Ogier. “I pushed, but no more than the rest of the weekend.”
Mikkelsen admitted he didn’t risk all in his pursuit.
“I could have pushed more. I saw places where I could have been slightly quicker but it was close to perfect. For the next run hopefully I can give it a little bit more. I’d like to try for the win but not at all costs. Without him making a mistake it will be difficult,” said the Norwegian.
Jari-Matti Latvala clawed back 0.4sec on Ott Tänak in their battle for third and the pair will start the final stage separated by 1.1sec.
“It’s just enough,” said Tänak. “I made some changes to the pace notes for the next run. It’s not an all-out push, but we’ve been pushing all weekend. We’re competitive and improving as we promised.”
Thierry Neuville finished with a wooden stake jammed in his Hyundai i20’s rear wheel arch and a banner trailing from the back after a second gear roll.
“I followed the line into a cut but there was something there that tripped us up. We were lucky we could continue,” explained the Belgian, who escaped with only a 10sec time loss but saw his slim chance of catching team-mate Hayden Paddon disappear.
Robert Kubica had a differential and handbrake problem in his Ford Fiesta RS but retained seventh.
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