Neuville with 1.3sec advantage in front of Tanak after a muddy day...

Neuville with 1.3sec advantage in front of Tanak after a muddy day in Poland

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Thierry Neuville was the leader in Rally Poland after the first day of the race. The Hyundai driver had only 1.3sec advantage to Ott Tanak. Third in the standings was Jari-Matti Latvala.

The cancellation of Thursday’s ceremonial start due to inclement weather conditions failed to deter the WRC crews. The rally got underway officially on Thursday evening with the first running of the 2.5km Mikolajki Arena Super Special.  As the heavy rain continued, it made for demanding stage conditions throughout Friday’s itinerary with muddy, slippery and unpredictable terrain.

Neuville got the day off to a strong start with a stage win in SS2 (Chmielewo) before adding another at the end of the morning loop, in SS5 (Stare Juchy)

It represented Hyundai Motorsport’s 50th stage win of the championship so far – extending its highest ever tally in a single season.

The scheduled repeat of Chmielewo was cancelled, which shortened the afternoon loop to three stages – Wieliczki, Swietajno and Stare Juchy, followed by the evening’s Super Special. Neuville added two further stage wins.

The Belgian and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul are aiming to extend their unbroken run of podium finishes, which dates back to Rally Mexico in March. Neuville is looking to make headway on Sébastien Ogier in the Drivers’ Championship with a strong finish in Poland, and perhaps even a third win of 2017.

“It’s been a good start to this rally for us, even if the conditions have been very demanding throughout the day”, Neuville commented.

“We started this morning with a very good stage win but the rain made it difficult to correctly read the grip levels. To take the team’s 50th stage win of the season in SS5 was a nice way to finish the morning loop. We added another two wins in the afternoon as the conditions improved. At the start of the loop, there was a lot of standing water in the ruts and no driving line to follow. Overall, though, I am very happy and the car has performed excellently. The fight for the lead has been close and I don’t expect that to change over the next two days. We’re in a good position but there’s a lot more to come from everyone and more surprises I’m sure.”

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