Poland WRC: Neuville seals victory, Latvala tops Power Stage

Thierry Neuville closed the gap on WRC points leader Sebastien Ogier by sealing his third victory of the year with a straightforward run through the final two stages of Rally Poland.

Poland WRC: Neuville seals victory, Latvala tops Power Stage
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Podium: winners Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport, second place Hayden Paddon, Sebastian Marshall, Hyundai Motorsport
Winners Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport, second place Hayden Paddon, Sebastian Marshall, Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Michel Nandan, head of Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport

Neuville began the final loop of the rally with a massive advantage of 1m03.3s over Hyundai teammate Hayden Paddon following Ott Tanak's off on SS21, which forced the Estonian to retire from the rally on the following road section.

On SS22, the second run through the 11km Orzysz test, Neuville extended his lead further still with his eighth stage win of the rally, taking an advantage of 1m13s over Paddon into the Power Stage.

The Belgian took few risks on the 18km final stage, Paprotki 2, setting the fifth-fastest time to secure his maiden Rally Poland win and a fifth victory of his WRC career.

"I'm really happy, we've been really strongest again the last couple of events," said Neuville. "We're closing the gap to Ogier and this is a good achievement.

"It was really tough this weekend, I was happy to finish the final stage relaxed with a big margin."

Paddon maintained second, 1m23s behind teammate Neuville, securing his best finish of the year so far and his best since his Rally Argentina win last year.

Behind the two Hyundai drivers, M-Sport driver Ogier was promoted to the final place on the podium with Tanak's demise. He lost ground on SS22 with a trip through a field before setting the second-quickest time on the Power Stage to score four valuable bonus points.

It means Ogier's points lead was cut by Neuville from 18 to 11, with five rallies remaining of the year.

Dani Sordo also suffered problems on SS22, picking up a front-right puncture three kilometres from the end of the stage, but managed to hang on to fourth in the third Hyundai.

Making his top-line debut, M-Sport's Teemu Suninen began the final stage in fifth, but a Power Stage spin dropped the 23-year-old Finn behind of the best of the Citroens, Stephane Lefebvre, into sixth.

Mads Ostberg held seventh in his privateer Fiesta, ahead of Elfyn Evans' DMACK Ford, while the second Citroen of Andreas Mikkelsen leapfrogged the Toyota of Juho Hanninen for ninth on the Power Stage.

Jari-Matti Latvala, whose Toyota stopped on Saturday with a technical problem, scored maximum bonus points in the finale to move ahead of Tanak into third in the points, albeit now 48 behind Ogier.

In WRC2, Skoda privateer Ole Christian Veiby took his first-ever victory in the category, ahead of the works Fabia R5 of Pontus Tidemand.

Final results:

Pos. Driver Car Time/Gap
1 BEL Thierry Neuville Hyundai 2h40m46.1s
2 NZL Hayden Paddon Hyundai +1m23.9s
3 FRA Sebastien Ogier M-Sport Ford +2m20.8s
4 ESP Dani Sordo Hyundai +2m47.4s
5 FRA Stephane Lefebvre Citroen +3m11.8s
6 FIN Teemu Suninen M-Sport Ford +3m16.8s
7 NOR Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford +3m39.6s
8 GBR Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +4m39.1s
9 NOR Andreas Mikkelsen Citroen +4m43.5s
10 FIN Juho Hanninen Toyota +4m53.7s
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Poland WRC: Tanak mistake gives Neuville big lead
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