Ott Tanak Leads Hyundai Charge at Rally Poland in WRC Return

    In a thrilling start to the Rally Poland event, which is making its return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar for the first time since 2017, Hyundai’s Ott Tanak has taken an early lead after edging out his team-mate and WRC points leader Thierry Neuville on the opening stage.

    The side-by-side Mikolajki Arena spectator stage kicked off the rally with a packed crowd in attendance. Tanak faced off against M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux in his head-to-head, where he emerged victorious by 1.9 seconds. This time was enough to secure the stage win by a margin of 1 second over Neuville, who defeated Toyota’s Elfyn Evans by 0.3 seconds in their duel.

    “I enjoy these roads, but they are not easy at all, everything needs to be spot on,” said Tanak at the end of the stage, as he looked ahead to the challenges of Friday’s running. “You need to have full confidence in everything around you so we will find out tomorrow what we are feeling.”

    Evans clocked the third-fastest time, 0.3 seconds quicker than his Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta. Andreas Mikkelsen, making his third start of the season in the third Hyundai i20 N, ended the stage in fifth, 1.8 seconds behind the leader, after winning his heat against reigning world champion Kalle Rovanpera.

    Fourmaux slotted into sixth, 1.9 seconds off the pace, ahead of Rovanpera, who was 2.1 seconds adrift. Rovanpera, who only completed his event recce earlier today, believes it is not possible for him to fight for the victory after his rushed and limited event preparation.

    “I don’t think we can win at least not in a reasonable or safe way,” said Rovanpera. “It is super annoying as you come here just to have a good finish, but when you drive, it is shit if you don’t try to win.”

    M-Sport’s Gregoire Munster expressed his frustration with the organizers, stating that the gravel on the stage was too dry despite the promise of watering, resulting in damage to his Ford Puma’s windscreen.

    The WRC2 category was topped by Oliver Solberg, despite losing his head-to-head against Martins Sesks, who made his class debut in a non-hybrid powered version of the M-Sport Ford Puma.

    The rally will continue on Friday with six gravel stages split by a tire fitting zone, as the drivers and teams look to navigate the challenging conditions and secure their respective positions in the WRC championship.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source