THE CITROËN C3 WRCs IN THE HUNT
Throughout the second leg of Rally Poland, all three Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT drivers managed to combine speed and consistency. Stéphane Lefebvre climbed to seventh overall, whilst Andreas Mikkelsen sneaked into the points.
- The longest day of the rally featured four stages, each contested twice, either side of a mid-leg service. At the end of the afternoon loop, the competitors also completed a third and final run on the Mikolajki Arena super special stage.
- With the Priority 1 drivers running in reverse championship order, Craig Breen and Andreas Mikkelsen were the first to tackle the stages, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was fifth on the road. However, with sunshine making a return to the skies above Mazury, it was far from certain that these positions represented an advantage.
- On the opening stages, the C3 WRCs drivers were quickly into their stride, challenging for the leading times. Fourth fastest and then fifth fastest on SS13 and SS14, Stéphane Lefebvre moved up a position to grab eighth place.
- Despite taking the scenic route on a couple of occasions, Andreas Mikkelsen matched the pace of his young team-mate: the Norwegian finished sixth on SS11 and fifth on SS13, and was much happier with the handling of his car.
- Comfortable on the day's first two stages, Craig Breen suffered on the next couple, making minor mistakes related to switching between dry and wet sections and the fact he was running first on the road.
- After the mid-leg service, Stéphane Lefebvre picked up where he had left off in the morning. He followed up a top-five time on SS16 with two third places on SS17 and SS18. After moving up to seventh with the retirement of Latvala, he closed to within fifteen seconds of Suninen.
- Twice in the top five in the afternoon loop, Andreas Mikkelsen also gained a couple of positions: he moved ahead of Hänninen and up into tenth place.
- Tomorrow's third and final leg of Rally Poland features just four stages, contested with no service period. The Power Stage, broadcast live on television, is due to start at 12.18pm.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: "In consistently setting some of the leading times, our three drivers had a good day, which shows we've made the work done before the rally count. In dry conditions, we can see that the upgrades made to the C3 WRC have enabled the drivers to push whilst maintaining control. Like yesterday, we should highlight the strong performance of Stéphane Lefebvre, who has moved up the overall standings. It's now up to him to finish the job tomorrow and record a positive result. It's been an encouraging day, but we must work even harder to find the last few tenths."
Stéphane Lefebvre: "I think I had a good day today – it was certainly my best day in the Citroën C3 WRC. It wasn't easy to find the right pace or the right set-up as we went from one stage to another but all in all, everything went well and I was able to push without taking any major risks. I'll remained focused and ready to take advantage of the slightest opportunity to move further up the overall standings. There are still four stages to go!"
Andreas Mikkelsen: "I'm pleased with our performance on today's leg. From the word go, on the opening stage, the car seemed quick in these conditions. Of course, we continued to work in order to keep improving. I held back slightly on the second pass, because I didn't want to risk a puncture in the ruts."
Craig Breen: "I felt a lot more comfortable in the C3 WRC today. I was able to start building my confidence as we got through the stages. It wasn't easy given that I was running first on the road. I had to cope with the changes in grip and I ended up making a few mistakes. I hope the experience acquired this weekend will be useful for me in Finland."
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:10:26.3
2. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.1
3. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +25.5
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:32.0
5. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:43.8
6. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:06.2
7. Lefebvre / Moreau (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:20.3
8. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:45.8
9. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:23.1
10. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:34.6
13. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +10:38.6