WRC- Dominant Rovanperä Takes Poland Advantage

 After 15 fast-paced gravel stages, Rovanperä is in front by 9.4s in his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid with four stages and 63 kilometres of timed action remaining on Sunday.

With limited preparation time having replaced Sébastien Ogier following the Frenchman’s reconnaissance accident less than 48 hours before the rally began, reigning world champion Rovanperä romped to six fastest times during Saturday to overturn the 1.8s advantage previously held by Mikkelsen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid) on Friday night.

Tyre wear threatened to undermine the Finn’s dominance in the afternoon’s hot temperatures, which reached almost 30 degrees centigrade. The hard compound Pirellis that made up the bulk of Mikkelsen’s selection outlasted Rovanperä’s mix of four softs and one hard. Despite that, Rovanperä made the best of his remaining tyres, even adding 4.2s to his lead through the day-closing 22.40-kilometre Czarne test.

“I tried my best the whole day, and the afternoon was definitely more enjoyable when I knew what was coming,” Rovanperä said. “It will not be easy tomorrow; I think it will be tougher than today. Let’s hope for the best.”

Mikkelsen dropped to third behind GR Yaris driver Elfyn Evans after two stages, but Toyota’s 1-2 was short-lived when the Welshman suffered a rear tyre delamination on SS13. It cost Evans almost 10s and he has been forced to settle for the final podium spot, trailing Mikkelsen by 6.7s overnight.

Evans could take solace from the fact that he outscored main title rivals Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak in the Saturday points distribution, provisionally collecting 13 points compared with Neuville’s six and Tänak’s zero. The latter, who had already stopped on Friday, retired his Hyundai again this lunchtime in a bid to preserve the car for Super Sunday.

Adrien Fourmaux continued his strong run to fourth overall in an M-Sport Ford Puma, ending the leg 20.9s adrift of Evans but 21.2s clear of fifth-placed Mārtiņš Sesks, driving a non-hybrid Puma.

Sesks, who is making his top-level debut this weekend, did well to hold off championship leader Neuville by a single tenth while Grégoire Munster completes the top seven.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta remains in eighth place while FIA WRC2 frontrunners Sami Pajari and Oliver Solberg complete the top 10.

Jakub Matulka is 5.5s ahead of Diego Domínguez in the battle for the FIA WRC3 win, while Armin Kremer’s FIA WRC Masters’ Cup lead stands at almost two minutes.

Sunday’s final leg features double runs of Gmina Mrągowo and Mikołajki with the Wolf Power Stage due to begin at 14:15 local time.

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