(19.05.2023) Mikolaj Marczyk (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) celebrated his co-driver’s birthday with a victory on opening stage of ORLEN 79th Rally Poland. Marczyk and Gospodarczyk, the winners of previous edition of Rally Poland, were nearly a second quicker than second placed crew.

Two-time Polish Rally Champions leave no stone unturned when Rally Poland victory is at stake. ORLEN Team duo proved their pace already on the qualifying stage, which they eventually won, earning a privilege to choose the best starting position for leg one.

They did not slow down in the evening either. Marczyk and Gospodarczyk won the SS 1 held at Mikolajki Arena track (2,5 km) with a healthy margin over Hayden Paddon and John Kennard (Hyundai i20 N Rally2). The leaders of FIA ERC standings needed 0,9 s more to cover the route of the superspecial. It were Erik Cais and Igor Bacigal (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) who finished third overall (+1,1 s).

Reigning European champions Efren Llarena and Sara Fernandez (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) clocked fourth fastest time (+1,3 s), while Grzegorz Grzyb and Adam Binieda (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) were second fastest Polish crew, after finishing the stage in 5th position (+2,0 s).

Jon Armstrong and Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta Rally3) took the lead in ERC 3 category. Piotr Parys and Damian Syty (Ford Fiesta Rally3) finished the event-opener 1,3 seconds adrift of stage winners. Third placed duo was Paulo Soria and Axel Coronado Jimenez (+2,3 s) – the first ever crew to use Renault Clio Rally3 in international event.

Meanwhile Mille Johansson and Johan Gronvall from Sweden (Ford Fiesta Rally4) were fastest among ERC entrants in 2WD cars.

In Polish Rally Championship (RSMP) classification Marczyk and Gospodarczyk are in the lead, followed by Grzyb/Binieda and Byskiniewicz/Siatkowski (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, +2,9 s).

Saturday is the longest leg of Polish ERC counter with seven stages to cover, with total length of 101,34 km. Two passes of Świętajno (18,54 km), Markowskie (13,53 km) and Wieliczki (17,35 km) stages are scheduled, while the day will be concluded with another duel at Mikolajki Arena.

ORLEN 79th Rally Poland – standings after SS1:

1. Marczyk/Gospodarczyk (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia RS Rally2)   1:47,7 s

2. Paddon Kennard (NZL/NZL, Hyundai i20 N Rally2)   +0,9 s

3. Cais/Bacigal (CZE/SVK, Skoda Fabia RS Rally2)   +1,1 s

4. Llarena/Fernandez (ESP/ESP, Skoda Fabia RS Rally2)   +1,3 s

5. Grzyb/Binięda (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)   +2,0 s

6. Kristensson/Johansson (SWE/SWE, Citroen C3 Rally2)   +2,1 s

7. Mabellini/Menzi (ITA/ITA, Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)   +2,2 s

7. Tempestini/Itu (ROU/ROU, Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)   +2,2 s

9. Franceschi/Escartefigue (FRA/FRA, Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)   +2,3 s

10. Nucita/Fenoli (ITA/ITA, Hyundai i20 N Rally2)   +2,4 s