(28.06.2024) After the first day of the ORLEN 80th Rally Poland, the top three crews are separated by no more than two seconds. It is Andreas Mikkelsen, co-driven by Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid), who hold first place in overall standings. This means that Norwegian duo will have very good starting position for Saturday’s stages.

Seven special stages with just under 115 km were planned for Friday, but only five were run. Due to non-compliance with safety rules by impromptu spectators, the first run of the Wieliczki stage and the second run of the Olecko stage were interrupted and then canceled, which affected the results of the competition and the starting order for Saturday’s loops. Second run of Wieliczki stage was also interrupted.

After the first day of competition, the differences at the top of the ORLEN 80th Rally Poland are minimal, and the simultaneous battles of two crews on the Mikołajki Arena track determined the final order after Friday’s stages. The first five crews are within 7.7 seconds, with the top three separated by just two seconds.

Mikkelsen and Eriksen lead the overall standings of ORLEN 80th Rally Poland. The Hyundai duo had a sensational first loop. They won two special stages in the morning and built a 7.4s lead over the second crew. In the afternoon, the Norwegians failed to find suitable setup of their i20 N Rally Hybrid and instead of extending their lead, they allowed their rivals reduce the gap.

Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) were the ones who increased their pace, moving closer to Hyundai crew. The Finnish duo, who arrived in Mikolajki in “last minute mode” and did a recce on a tight schedule, showed impressive performance during the second pass of the Stańczyki stage, covering the nearly 30-kilometre test as much as 14.4 seconds faster than Norwegians, what saw them dropped to 2nd overall. All in all, after 8 competitive stages, Fins hold second place, just 1,8 seconds adrift of the lead.

Third-placed crew is another Toyota duo – Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin. British crew did not win any special stage, but thanks to their efficient and trouble-free performance they are still in the game for the victory, just 2 seconds behind Mikkelsen and Eriksen. Top-three crews are followed by Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid, +7.5s) and Martin Sesks/Renars Francis (Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid, +7.7s) – the only crew in hybrid-less Rally1 car.

WRC standings leaders Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally 1) fought throughout Friday to have the smallest possible gap to the frontrunners and improve their starting position for Saturday’s special stages. As a result, they will be the third crew on the road during the second leg of the rally. The stages will be opened by the Estonian duo Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid), who had to withdraw from Friday’s competition after an unlucky collision with a deer, which caused serious damage to their car.

The WRC2 category is led by Sami Pajari/Enni Malkonen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2), who are being chased by the Polish duo Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2). The 2023 WRC2 Challenger winners are 8.9 adrift of first place. Irish crew Josh McErlean/James Fulton (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) hold third place in RC2 category, 22,2 seconds behind Finnish leaders.

Jakub Matulka and Daniel Dymurski (Ford Fiesta Rally3) are the names on the top of RC3 leaderboard. During first leg of the event, they managed to earn 23-seconds gap, ahead of second-placed Diego Dominguez and Rogelio Penate (Ford Fiesta Rally3).

On Saturday, drivers and co-drivers will compete over 124.1 km. The crews will head northeast again to tackle the Swietajno (18.5km), Goldap (19.9km), and Czarne (22.4km) stages twice. One more duel is planned at the Mikołajki Arena (2,5) before the service after the first loop.

ORLEN 80th Rally Poland – overall standings after SS 8:

1. Mikkelsen/Eriksen (NOR/NOR, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid) 59:43,7 s
2. Rovanpera/Halttunen (FIN/FIN, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid) +1,8 s
3. Evans/Martin (GBR/GBR, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid) +2,0 s
4. Formaux/Coria (FRA/FRA, Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid) +7,5 s
5. Sesks/Renars (LVA/LVA, Ford Puma Rally1) +7,7 s
6. Munster/Louka (LUX/BEL, Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid) +21,3 s
7. Neuville/Wydaeghe (BEL/BEL, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid) +29,8 s
8. Katsuta/Johnston (JPN/IRL, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid) +32,3 s
9. Pajari/Malkonen (FIN/FIN, Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) +2:15,6 s
10. Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) +2:24,5 s
17. Marczyk/Gospodarczyk (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) +2:57,4 s
25. Kołtun/Pleskot (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) +5:18,6 s
27. Matulka/Dymurski (POL/POL, Ford Fiesta Rally3) +6:01,9 s

ORLEN 80th Rally Poland – leg two itinerary

Saturday, 29th of June 2024 (7 special stages, 124,1 km in total):

  • 8:30 SS 9 – Świętajno 1 (18,5 km)
  • 9:45 SS 10 – Gołdap 1 (19,9 km)
  • 10:35 SS 11 – Czarne 1 (22,4 km)
  • 13:25 SS 12 – Mikołajki Arena (2,5 km)
  • 14:00 Service B – 40 min (Mikołajki, Hotel Gołębiewski)
  • 16:00 SS 13 – Świętajno 2 (18,5 km)
  • 17:15 SS 14 – Gołdap 2 (19,9 km)
  • 18:05 SS 15 – Czarne 2 (22,4 km)
  • 19:00 Rally Party (Rally Fan Park, Mikołajki Arena)
  • 20:55 Service C – 45 min (Mikołajki, Hotel Gołębiewski)
  • 21:15 Meet the Crews (service park, Mikołajki, Hotel Gołębiewski)