Poland WRC: Neuville and Tanak locked in thrilling lead battle

Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak continued to swap the Rally Poland lead on Saturday morning, while Sebastien Ogier damaged his car and dropped back to sixth.

Neuville began and ended the loop with a 1.3-second lead over Tanak, but they swapped positions twice in between.

Though it initially looked like Neuville was going to pull away as he set rapid splits early on the Baranowo opener, he backed off to assess whether he had a puncture after striking a rock and only added 1.3s to his lead there.

Then on the following Pozezdrze stage Tanak somehow managed to get himself back into the lead by 3.5s despite a spin, with Neuville only able to cite a small error as a reason why he might've been outpaced to that extent.

Neuville fought back over the remaining two stages and a fastest time on Kruklanki put him back ahead as they set off for service.

Jari-Matti Latvala could not consistently match their pace during the morning, winning Baranowo but struggling whenever the now-mostly-dry stages were more rutted. He is 9.5s off the lead in third for Toyota.

Ogier started the day expecting to regain ground now he wasn't running first on the road, but instead fell backwards.

A slow puncture on the opener was followed by a more comprehensive puncture, a spin and an impact with something solid on the Pozezdrze stage, which dropped Ogier to sixth behind the Hyundais of Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo.

Having smashed a lot of the aero off his Fiesta, Ogier then had a wild run through the remaining stages and is now over a minute and a half from the front.

Even before Ogier's incidents, Paddon had looked set to take fourth from him as the Kiwi set a superb pace, picking up a stage win on Goldap.

World Rally Car newcomer Teemu Suninen continues to hold an extremely respectable seventh in M-Sport's additional entry, just 17.9s behind team leader Ogier now.

Juho Hanninen has struggled with a problem that required his Toyota to stay at high revs. He was demoted to 10th by Stephane Lefebvre and Mads Ostberg during the morning.

Andreas Mikkelsen continued to reel in Elfyn Evans for 11th, though his chase wasn't helped by a couple of trips off the road.

The morning ran behind schedule throughout due to delays on the first two stages while organisers moved spectators out of dangerous places.

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About this article
Series WRC
Event Rally Poland
Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala , Thierry Neuville , Ott Tanak
Teams Hyundai Motorsport
Article type Leg report