WRC Rally Poland: Sebastien Ogier fends off Andreas Mikkelsen

World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier stabilised his Rally Poland advantage over Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen at 5.6 seconds with two stages remaining after a shortened afternoon loop

WRC Rally Poland: Sebastien Ogier fends off Andreas Mikkelsen

Mikkelsen threatened the reigning WRC champion all day without ever overhauling him for first.

Issues with spectators cancelled the afternoon's opener, which Mikkelsen said compromised the tyre strategy he had planned for the loop.

He fought back by winning the following Wieliczki stage, and with Ogier only sixth fastest the gap came down from 7.2s to 5.8s.

But Ogier was then boosted by his road position on the day's final full-length stage.

The VW man has been critical of the new-for-2015 start position rule, but it worked to his advantage on Swietajno as the dust he threw up impacted on the visibility of the drivers behind.

Mikkelsen still gained another 1.1s on Ogier, only to lose nine tenths of that when his team-mate set the superspecial pace, leaving the gap at 5.6s overnight.

The time difference was far larger between second and third, as Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala were left to duel over third place.

Tanak came out on top by just 1.5s heading into the final day, repeating his rapid morning pace and winning the last 'proper' stage of the day.

Behind them, Haydon Paddon was the best of the Hyundai drivers in fifth, after setting stage times as high as second in the afternoon.

He finished comfortably ahead of chasing team-mate Thierry Neuville throughout the loop.

Following the two i20 WRCs is local hero Robert Kubica, who rounded off his consistent rally with another star performance on the superspecial, where he repeated the second place he had taken on Thursday and Friday nights.

The ex-Formula 1 man fell just 0.1s short of Ogier's stage topping time and crossed the line to a great reception from the home fans at the Mikolajki Arena.

Kris Meeke is comfortably ahead of the battling Mads Ostberg and Dani Sordo in eighth, but the Brit struggled to find the optimum tyre strategy throughout the day.

Esapekka Lappi continues to dominate WRC2 in 12th overall, ahead of Skoda team-mate Pontus Tidemand.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS17:

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Rally Poland: Sebastien Ogier extends lead despite road position
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Rally Poland: Sebastien Ogier defeats Andreas Mikkelsen to win

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