05 July 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polish podium for Mikkelsen as puncture denies Tanak WRC win

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Poland: Mikkelsen/Jæger

In what must be the closest event yet this season, the seventh round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) saw victory go to Volkswagen Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen – but it was down to the wire. Up until the penultimate stage, Estonian DMACK Fiesta crew Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder had set a blistering pace on Rally Poland and looked untouchable.

Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger had driven on the edge of their limits all weekend, and had chased Tanak hard. They were consigning themselves to the second step of the Polish podium, when the Estonian duo suffered an unfortunately-timed puncture on the penultimate stage. An emergency tyre change saw the pair relegated to second place, and the disappointment was palpable.

Sweep supremely fast
A dry event right up until the final day had seen Mikkelsen’s 318bhp Polo R WRC sweep supremely fast through the majority of the event’s 306.1km, and when the rain arrived, it altered grip levels instantly, Tanak one of the casualties who lost time due to tyre choice. And while the runner-up position is still held in high regard, it didn’t soften the blow dealt by the Norwegian Volkswagen driver’s second WRC win.

New-for-2016 pairing Mikkelsen and Jæger proved their mettle in Poland and were the third duo onto the route for the first two days of the rally, which saw them sweep the road clear of loosed gravel for the following drivers. And as first-runner Ogier knows, that’s a distinct disadvantage which slows the car down. However, the young guns from Norway still finished in the top three on 15 of the 21 special stages, and made sure the battle with Tänak and Mõlder lasted for the whole event.

37th Power Stage win
Mikkelsen’s first place finish was the Polo R WRC’s 38th since it drove its first special stage mile in 2013. The Rally Poland win pushes him into second place in the 2016 Drivers’ Championship, just under three-time world champion and team-mate Sébastien Ogier who leads Mikkelsen by 51 points. Ogier and co-driver Julian Ingrassia were sixth in Poland, and clinched the 37th Power Stage win for Volkswagen Motorsport, the pair’s 31st.

Mikkelsen was in jubilant mood: ‘What a fantastic end to a crazy rally. We gave it everything we could, right from the word go. That was the only way we could compensate for having to take to the route so early. We knew that we could still get another chance to challenge for the win in today’s unpredictable conditions. When that chance came along, we took it.

‘To win the rally is simply fantastic, as it is the first win together with my co-driver Anders Jæger. We are friends and have been through so much together. This here is very special. However, I feel for Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder, who were denied victory by a puncture so close to the finish. I experienced similar in Sweden last year.”

‘Tough weekend’
Ogier was one of the first to acknowledge Tänak’s unfortunate defeat: ‘Congratulations to Andreas and Anders, who did a good job all rally. But respect also to the performance of Ott Tänak. As always in Poland, he was really quick. At the end of the Power Stage I tried to console him a little. It really hurts when you come so close to your first win in the World Rally Championship.

‘It was a tough weekend for Julien and me, so I am glad that we at least managed to pick up a few points towards the overall standings. The conditions were really slippery today, the toughest they’ve been for a long time. It was all about getting the Polo home in one piece. I am now looking forward to returning home to my wife and new son.’

Third Polo R WRC crew Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila rounded out the top five in Poland, and move into fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship standings, 75 points behind Ogier and Ingrassia. While 2016 may not have been the Finns’ season, their upcoming home event should see them at an advantage and on fighting form. The Finnish pair did score second place and bonus points in the Power Stage in Poland, though.

‘Ruthless nature’
Latvala put his unregular pace down to a lack of rhythm: ‘First of all, congratulations to my team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. He drove a fantastic rally. It is obviously bitter for Ott Tänak to lose first place with so little of the rally remaining, but that is the ruthless nature of our sport. For me, today was the best day of the Rally Poland.

‘Unfortunately, I found my rhythm far too late. Despite this, the good times on the special stages and second place on the Power Stage are a decent way to finish the rally and earned some valuable points in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Next up is the Rally Finland – my home race and the highlight of the year. I am really looking forward to it and will prepare as well as possibly for it.’

At the halfway point of the season, Volkswagen Motorsport leads the Manufacturer (61 points ahead of nearest rival Hyundai), Driver and Co-Driver World Championships. The eighth round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Finland, hits the forests and stages around Jyväskylä from 28-31 July.


1 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen: 2h 37m 34.4s
2 Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford: + 26.2s
3 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai: + 28.5s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai: + 29.3s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: + 33.8s
6 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: + 40.3s


1 Sébastien Ogier, 143
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, 92
3 Hayden Paddon, 72
4 Jari-Matti Latvala, 68
5 Dani Sordo, 68


1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 196
2 Hyundai Motorsport, 135
3 M-Sport, 100
4 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 99
5 Hyundai Motorsport N, 78

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