Our second stage of the day in Poland is the 14.75km Goldap test. It’s a tricky one as it changes to and from asphalt and gravel three times, and also has a variety of wide and narrow sections – it’s also got some especially thick gravel, meaning that the first cars through will have heavier road-sweeping duties than on other stages.
M-Sport driver Ott Tanak completed the stage fastest, with an average speed of some 118km/h and a time of 7:38.1. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Estonian, however. ‘We had some issue with the brakes in the second half,’ a worried Ott reported. ‘I must go and have a look.’
Tanak’s stage win puts him into the rally lead by just one tenth of a second, with Andreas Mikkelsen second both in the stage and overall, but he admitted that he wasn’t pushing as hard as he could have. ‘A good start. Quite careful in some places where we were checking our notes ready for the repeat.’ he explained. ‘We’re all in the same position on these new stages.’
Third quickest through this test was Jari-Matti Latvala, who is also third overall. ‘Andreas is in a really good rhythm, but that is what I was expecting.’ he reported. ‘I’m feeling good too, but let’s see what the guys like Kris Meeke behind can do.’
Hayden Paddon picked up his pace through the stage – the Kiwi has shown phenomenal pace on gravel this year; he’s just 1.6 seconds down on Tanak’s time and up to sixth overall. ‘A bit more technical and cresty, I like this type of road, but my pace notes are a bit too slow, so I’m having to try and second guess where I can keep a higher gear.’ Hayden added.
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier was fifth quickest, with Robert Kubica enjoying his home rally and coming through sixth fastest, 8.1 seconds down on the fastest time.
A remote refuel stands between the crews and the next stage, which is the 14.65km Babki stage, after which SS5 is the longest of the day; Stanczyki measures some 39.12km and will be run again as SS7 later on.
Story and photo: iRallylive .com