Poland - Citroen World Rally Team - Finish
The very last stage of WRC newcomer Rally Poland – which was an immediate hit – saw the consistent run of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti rewarded with second place. Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena concluded their fight-back by finishing
seventh overall, while Citroen has succeeded in extending its lead at the top of the provisional World Rally Championship standings.
The final day of the 2009 Rally Poland was significantly shorter than Friday's and Saturday's legs and featured two visits to two stages – Milki and Tros, located either side of Lake Niegocin – plus one last attempt to the Mikolajki super-special.
Despite overnight rain, the conditions were dry for Sunday morning's first test (SS14, Milki) which Dani Sordo completed 25 seconds down on the leaders.
"I got my braking wrong for a hairpin because the board I had chosen as a marker had disappeared! We went straight on and that cost us a bit of time," Sordo related. "Although the incident didn't really change much for us, it did show how vital it is to stay focused all the way to the flag if we want to finish on the podium."
Meanwhile Sebastien Loeb
was setting good times as he continued to race under SupeRally regulations following his retirement on Friday: "I'm taking fewer risks this morning. Our aim is still to score points for Citroen."
After the rally's final 30-minute service break, crews headed out one last time for the Polish stages. Sordo kept to the same pace, but Loeb moved a step closer to a top eight finish when the Citroen Junior Team's Sebastien Ogier was forced out on SS16 while in fourth overall position.
Ogier's teammates Evgeny Novikov and Conrad Rautenbach then made way for five-time World Champion Loeb in order to enable the Frenchman to move into a points-scoring position on SS17.
There was more drama to come, however, when Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala stopped on the super special stage, allowing Sordo and Loeb to finish second and seventh overall respectively!
"We asked Evgeny Novikov and Conrad Rautenbach to let Sebastien pass this morning to enable Citroen WRT to score as many points as possible," explained Citroen Racing Director Olivier Quesnel.
"We were very disappointed when Sebastien Ogier retired after such a perfect run. It's been a difficult weekend, but Citroen is the team which has come away with the highest number of points. We have extended our cushion at the top of the manufacturers' championship to 17 points, and Sebastien is now just one point clear of Mikko Hirvonen in the drivers' standings," Quesnel pointed out.
Dani Sordo was feeling particularly upbeat after finishing second in Poland: "Seb's problem on Day One put me in a difficult situation because it meant I really had to make sure I finished at least third to be sure of finishing in the big points. Even so, I still managed to post some top times at a time when the two Ford drivers were both going flat out."
"I am sincerely sorry for Jari-Matti," he added. "I know how disappointing it can be to go off on the last stage of a rally."
"I obviously can't be satisfied with seventh place, but we did succeed in salvaging something from the weekend," Loeb remarked. "Given the way things stand after this rally, I think the points we managed to secure here could turn out to be very valuable at the end of the year. I am now more fired up than ever for the next rounds..."