Mikolajki/Poland, 1 July 2017 – Two ŠKODA FABIA R5 teams are clearly dominating the WRC 2 category at the eighth round of the World Rally Championship in Poland. Asia Pacific Rally Championship leaders Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermoen (NOR/NOR), driving a Printsport entered ŠKODA FABIA R5, delivered a faultless and fast ride through the demanding gravel stages of the Masurian Lake District. ŠKODA Motorsport’s Pontus Tidemand and co-driver Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) are chasing their stablemates from second, concentrating mainly on avoiding unnecessary risks in order to gain valuable points in their bid for the World Rally Championship title (WRC 2). Both ŠKODA teams suffered punctures but were never in danger to lose the double lead in WRC 2.
The weather conditions on Saturday morning were much nicer than the day before. Instead of heavy rain the sun was shining when the teams were leaving Mikolajki for the longest leg of the rally. Norwegian youngster Ole Christian Veiby set the first two fastest times with his Printsport ŠKODA FABIA R5 ahead of works driver Pontus Tidemand. The current WRC 2 championship leader fought back on the next stage with an advantage of just 0.6 seconds and confessed: "We just need to keep going. The speed is fast now – flat everywhere possible. The key is avoiding mistakes. I am not pushing at 100 per cent." After 14 stages both ŠKODA Teams were separated by 13.6 seconds with Veiby in the lead.
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek was happy at the midday service: "I am delighted to see ŠKODA FABIA R5 teams holding all top four positions in WRC 2. Ole Christian is delivering a really stunning performance while Pontus needs to keep his focus on championship points."
On Saturday afternoon Veiby continued to control the lead. Tidemand consolidated second position with a safe drive. But on stage number 17 both ŠKODA teams run into trouble: Veiby got a right rear puncture and lost time, Tidemand had to drive more than ten kilometres with a flat front left tyre and lost more than one minute. Therefore the gap between him and Veiby was growing at the end to 1.03 minutes. "The tyre exploded in a corner, maybe I hit something before, that’s life," was Tidemand’s comment.
On the final leg of Rally Poland on Sunday, the teams have to face four stages totalling 59 kilometres. Unfortunately it looks like that the rain will return to the Masurian Lake District.
Standings Rally Poland after leg 2 (WRC 2)
1. Veiby/Skjaermoen (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 2:20.16,4 h
2. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE) ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 1:03,3 min.
3. Gilbert/Jamoul (FRA/BEL), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 3:40.8 min.
4. Guerra/Cué (MEX/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 6:15.2 min.
5. Bonato/Boulloud (FRA/FRA), Citroën DS3 R5, +6:17.2 min.
6. Chuchala/Rozwadowski (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, + 7:38.7 min.
Number of the day: 0.3
After 15.55 kilometres of stage 15, Pontus Tidemand was just a blink of an eye faster than WRC 2 leader Ole Christian Veiby – exactly 0.3 seconds
The 2017 calendar of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Rally Monte Carlo 19/01/–22/01/2017
Rally Sweden 09/02/–12/02/2017
Rally Mexico 09/03/–12/03/2017
Rally France 06/04/–09/04/2017
Rally Argentina 27/04/–30/04/2017
Rally Portugal 18/05/–21/05/2017
Rally Italy Sardinia 08/06/–11/06/2017
Rally Poland 29/06/–02/07/2017
Rally Finland 27/07/–30/07/2017
Rally Germany 17/08/–20/08/2017
Rally Spain 05/10/–08/10/2017
Rally Great Britain 26/10/–29/10/2017
Rally Australia 16/11/–19/11/2017