Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we revisit a previous running of the upcoming WRC round. This month we look at the 2014 running of Rally Poland, its 4th time on the WRC schedule.
Though it hasn’t always been a WRC event, it’s the second oldest rally still run, younger than only Monte Carlo, and has been run since 1921 as a regional or European Rally Championship event.
The 2014 running was at the height of Sebastian Ogier’s ascendance, as he had won the 2013 championship and was in dominant form to that point in 2014, with 5 wins.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Co-Driver Ola Floene jumped out to an early lead on day 1, setting the pace until the 3rd stage, one of four that ran into Lithuania. At that point, Sebastian Ogier overhauled them to hold a lead into Saturday after the evening’s special stage was cancelled due to poor road conditions.
As things progressed the gravel stages became badly rutted, particularly those in Lithuania, challenging the crews to stay on the road. Those who ran early held an advantage, including Mads Ostberg, who won the first stage from an early start on Saturday in his Citroen.
Ostberg’s teammate Kris Meeke did not fare so well however, suffering from a late start and badly deteriorated road condition. This caused him to drop from third to fifth as the day progressed.
Keeping in the mix to this point was local boy Robert Kubica, posting very good times in his Ford Fiesta WRC despite having rolled on Friday. Unfortunately a series of punctures and ultimately suspension damage from a wayward rock would end his rally prematurely.
Hyundai’s i20 WRCs were showing improved reliability, with all three cars having finished Friday, including two in the top 10. Days two and three would see them creep up the order, led by a flying Thierry Neuville.
The battle at the front remained between the Volkswagens of Ogier and Mikkelsen, both well clear of the field but with Ogier holding the clear edge.
By the end of day three, Neuville had clawed his way to third, though followed closely by Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala, and Juho Hanninen, all separated by less than 40 seconds. Ogier would take the win by 1 minute 7 seconds over Mikkelsen, taking a 50 point lead into the summer break before Finland, with Volkwagen firmly in control of the championship.
For highlights and event reports, check out the following videos:
Follow this weekend’s action, including three live stages, via the following links:
Motorsport.com WRC news
Photo credit (amazing!!)
Special thanks to Hoccy for allowing me to put together the Flashbacks for Italy and Poland.