Rally News

Rovanpera snatches lead, 2.2s covers top three

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

World rally champion Kalle Rovanpera produced a stunning effort to lead Rally Poland by 0.1s from Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans as the top three were covered by 2.2s on Saturday morning.

Despite his limited and rushed preparation for the event, Rovanpera showed his class to overhaul overnight leader Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen across Saturday morning’s three gravel stages.

Rovanpera won two of the three tests while his full-time team-mate and title contender Evans pushed to trail the Finn by the most slender of margins.

Mikkelsen witnessed his 1.8s advantage evaporate but a push on the morning’s final stage brought the Norwegian to win 2.2s of Rovanpera.

M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux held onto fourth [+15.7s] to pull clear of fellow Ford runner and Rally1 debutant Martins Sesks [+29.2s]. Championship leader Thierry Neuville climbed to sixth [+46.4s] in front of Gregoire Munster [54.9s], with Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta in eighth [+1m05.5s].        

Overnight rain dampened the stages but by the time the crews headed to stage nine the roads were largely dry.

After two stages were cancelled, and another interrupted due to spectator controlling issues, the FIA confirmed that the police presence would be redeployed in a bid to avoid a repeat.

Authorities were sent to the forestry areas that have been identified as locations where a small minority of fans were standing in dangerous areas and disrupting proceedings. 

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

The FIA reiterated that event organisers “have implemented a series of stringent safety measures in accordance with a detailed safety plan prepared and approved months in advance.”

However, officials were forced to red flag the opening test of the day, stage nine [Swietajno, 18.50km] due to spectator safety issues, after the returning Ott Tanak, following his retirement yesterday, Katsuta and Neuville passed through. Fortunately, the stage was restarted after approximately a 25-minute delay.

Once the action resumed, the battle for the rally lead intensified as Rovanpera reeled off a stage win, pipping team-mate Evans by 0.9s.

Rally leader Mikkelsen rose to the challenge at the front but the Hyundai driver dropped 1.3s reducing his rally lead over Rovanpera to 0.5s, with Evans only 1.6s adrift.

Fourmaux produced impressive pace to pull 6.1s clear of debutant Martins Sesks in their fight over fourth overall….

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