WRC Poland: Sebastien Ogier leads tight battle with Andreas Mikkelsen
|Friday, June 27th 2014, 11:12 GMT|
Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen continued to swap the Rally Poland lead in a fraught battle on Friday's opening stages.
Ogier had carried a narrow advantage over his Volkswagen team-mate from Thursday's opening loop, but lost the lead again on Friday's first stage, Wieliczki.
The field then transferred across to Lithuania for the next two stages, where Ogier struck back.
He closed Mikkelsen's lead to just 0.1s on SS5 and then edged ahead by 1.5s as they headed for the lunchtime regroup.
Although Ogier is running first on the road, drivers further back found that they were in the harder position this time as the surface of the Lithuanian stages broke up as the leaders came through, creating deep ruts.
The top five had been within 9.5s after SS4, but the two VWs pulled clear as those further back struggled with the road conditions after the change of country.
Mads Ostberg has moved up to third for Citroen, 15.2s off the outright lead. His team-mate Kris Meeke has fallen from third to fifth, and was left fuming over the state of the stages.
Jari-Matti Latvala is fourth between the Citroens in the third VW. Struggling for confidence, he is 29.4s behind leader and title rival Ogier and has ruled himself out of the victory fight.
Juho Hanninen runs sixth in the top Hyundai, just 2.4s behind Meeke and 21.3s clear of the leading M-Sport Ford, driven by a downcast Mikko Hirvonen.
Local hero Robert Kubica was among the drivers troubled by the ruts but remains ninth behind Thierry Neuville in the second Hyundai.
Leading positions after SS6: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier VW 39m54.0s 2. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +1.5s 3. Mads Ostberg Citroen +15.2s 4. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +29.4s 5. Kris Meeke Citroen +36.0s 6. Juho Hanninen Hyundai +38.4s 7. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +59.7s 8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai +1m01.8s 9. Robert Kubica M-Sport Ford +1m12.0s 10. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +1m13.8s