The 74th Rally Poland is the event we couldn’t miss. It’s the second oldest rally in the world, preceded only by famous Rally of Monte Carlo. Rally Poland has long history of the exciting rally competition. It was part of FIA World & European Rally Championship calendar many times and produced some great fights between world class drivers and rally legends. Sobiesław Zasada was the only driver to win the rally 4 times, closely followed by Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Kajetan Kajetanowicz who took the highest place on the podium 3 times each.

In the modern WRC era, Rally Poland held the single WRC event in 2009, which was won by Mikko Hirvonen.  Later it was removed from calendar and came back in 2014. The only driver to win Polish WRC round more than once is Sebastian Ogier, who won the rally consecutive in 2014 and 2015.

In the old days Rally Poland was a tarmac event, which was run on the twisty roads of southern Poland. It has changed 2005 and the rally is driven through the charming surroundings of Masurian Lake District around Mikołajki. Today the rally is 100% gravel with probably one of the fastest rally stages in WRC calendar.

This year we’ve seen 23 special stages over 3 days of competition. 14 drivers entered the rally with 2017 WRC spec cars and it was pure joy to watch them driving with 100% commitment in front of thousands of fans. The pace of the leading drivers was extremely close with Thierry Neuville, Ott Tanak and Jari-Maiti Latvala chasing the win within just a few seconds time gap halfway to finish. Unfortunately Latvala had to withdrawn with technical problems by the end of Leg 2, leaving Neuville and Tanak fighting for the win, with just 3s gap before Leg 3.

Unpredictable weather and heavy rain added more drama on Sunday. Tanak won the first stage (SS20) of Leg 3 driving so fast, that it has already looked like beyond the limit. He defeated Neuville by 5s and the rest of the field by 15s delighting hundreds of Estonian fans. Unfortunately he made a mistake on SS21 and heavily damaged his Fiesta WRC. He was able to finish the stage with more than a minute loss to Nueville, however he had to withdraw from the rally shorty after. Neuville could just safely cruise his Hyundai to bring another victory for the team and close the gap to Sebastian Ogier & M-Sport in season standings. Jari-Matti Latvala made up Saturday’s problems, winning Sunday’s power stage with style and earning 5 points to championship standing.

We also followed closely WRC2 as few Polish drivers entered this competition including our test driver Wojtek Chuchała. He was the only Polish driver to finish in this group as Hubert Ptaszek had to withdraw from the rally due to heavy roll and Łukasz Pieniążek experienced some technical problems. Chuchała presented a decent pace, improving from stage to stage. He finished sixth in the Rally which is a good sign before the next season.

The last Polish driver Jakub Brzeziński, after not the very best start at Leg 1, managed to recover some positions and secured 3rd place in WRC3. Which is good news for his WRC3 season perspective.

The atmosphere was great and the number of fans around stages were similar to 2015, when Robert Kubica drove his Fiesta WRC. The rally put some late drama and was joy to watch. There were some security issues, but we hope that the organizer can solve them and next year we will see Rally Poland in WRC calendar.

Final results:
1. Thierry NEUVILLE / Nicolas GILSOUL
2. Hayden PADDON / Sebastian MARSHALL  +1:23,9
3. Sébastien OGIER / Julien INGRASSIA +2:20,8
4. Dani SORDO / Marc MARTI +2:47,4
5. Stéphane LEFEBVRE / Gabin MOREAU +3:11,8
6. Teemu SUNINEN / Mikko MARKKULA +3:16,8

photo Maciej Niechwiadowicz