Andreas Mikkelsen snatched a
dramatic last-gasp victory at the PZM 73rd Rally Poland on the afternoon of July
3, 2016 when long-time leader Ott Tanak was cruelly deprived of a maiden FIA World
Rally Championship win. Tänak’s Ford Fiesta RS suffered a puncture in the
penultimate rain-soaked speed test, wiping out his near-20sec lead and allowing
Mikkelsen to claim a second career success. He became the sixth different
winner in the last six rounds of a hugely unpredictable season.
“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. 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," said
Mikkelsen on Sunday July 3.
Mikkelsen, showing great sportsman spirit went
and empathised with Tanak. The former too was on the receiving end of a similar
situation when he spun out of the lead in Sweden in 2015 in the final test.
“I told Ott before the final
stage that I felt so sorry for him. It would have been an adventure story but
that’s the way rallying is. It’s very unpredictable,” said Mikkelsen, who
climbed to second in the points.
Tänak had excelled on the
sandy but lightning fast roads since Friday afternoon and was inconsolable at
the finish. “There’s nothing I can say. All this and then you get nothing, it’s
too hard,” he said.
Hayden Paddon completed the podium in a
Hyundai i20, 2.3sec behind Tänak, to end a run of accidents in the previous two
rounds. However, the New Zealander almost relaxed too much in the final stage,
allowing team-mate Thierry Neuville to close to within 0.8sec.
Jari-Matti Latvala finished fifth, a further
4.5sec back in a Volkswagen Polo R. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier was sixth, the
championship leader admitting conditions were so bad that simply surviving the
final day was his sole aim.
Craig Breen was seventh in a
DS 3, moving up after team-mate Stéphane Lefebvre smashed his car’s rear left
suspension after spinning into a tree. The Frenchman eventually finished ninth.
Mads Østberg overhauled both
Lefebvre and team-mate Eric Camilli, who limped through the final stage with
damaged suspension on his Fiesta RS after going off the road in the previous
test. Camilli took 10th. Dani Sordo retired after firstly slamming his i20 in
chicane bales and then damaging his rear suspension against a tree.
Poland marked the midpoint of the 14-round
campaign and the second half begins with Neste Rally Finland which is based in
Jyväskylä on July 28 - 31
Source: WRC / Red Bull ; Pictures courtesy Red Bull Content Pool
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