WRC: Tänak’s Misfortune Hands Mikkelson Victory in Poland

Jack Cobourn Rally Cars, World Rally Championship 0 Comments

MIKOLAJKI, Warmia-Masuria, Poland – Ott Tänak looked to be on his way to a maiden WRC victory, when with two stages left,z puncture took him out of contention, allowing Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelson to claim his first win of the season.

Mikkelson said he gave it his all, and knew he was lucky to get the win.

“We pushed so hard all weekend and with the weather as it was today we knew it was going to be difficult and we gave it everything,” Mikkelson said. “It was like a war in the penultimate stage and it was all about luck, who got out without problems, and we were the lucky ones.”

Tänak started the day with a 21.3-second lead over Mikkelson, but the Norwegian made the first move, winning the 18th stage by 2.4 seconds from the Estonian. Tänak would lose a further 2.1 seconds to Mikkelson on the next stage, for though Volkswagen teammate Sébastien Ogier won the stage from Mikkelson, Tänak finished fourth, 3.1 seconds behind Ogier.

With two stages left after the service break, Tänak looked set to win when he hit a rock. Driving the rest of the way on the rim, he finished 11th, 40.5 seconds down on stage winner Jari-Matti Latvala, and was now down 16.5 seconds to Mikkelson.

Tänak said the incident was heartbreaking, but he would come back stronger from it.

“We had everything in our hands and it looked safe but unfortunately we had a slow puncture at the beginning and I had to do most of the stage on the rim,” Tänak said. “I still pushed really, really hard but in those conditions you can’t do much. It was difficult to take, but this is our job – sometimes rallying can be this way. There will be a payback time.”

With one stage left, Mikkelson cruised to an overall win by finishing seventh as Ogier won to round out the weekend in sixth overall. Ogier said wet and rainy conditions were tough and that he was just making sure he could keep going.

With the win, Mikkelson is now 51 points behind championship leader Ogier. Tanak is eighth in points, nine points behind Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, but 26 points ahead of Citroen’s Kris Meeke, who won in Portugal but is running a partial season.

The next rally is the Neste Oils Rally Finland from July 29-31. With fast gravel roads like Poland, Tänak could have a good chance of winning.

Tänak said his drive in Poland was clean, and that he would take that away from the rally.

“If you look at the big picture it’s still a great result for DMACK and the team,” he said. “From my side we did the perfect rally, not a single mistake, even though for many stages I was on the limit.”

RESULTS: World Rally Championship; Rally Poland; Leg Three — Top 10; July 3, 2016

  1. Andreas Mikkelson/Anders Jaeger

  2. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder

  3. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard

  4. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

  5. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Antilla

  6. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

  7. Craig Breen/Scott Martin

  8. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene

  9. Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau

  10. Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas

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