LUCKY WIN: Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen won the Rally of Poland after Ott Tanek was robbed of his very first vctory. Image: AFP / Janek Skarzynski
Mikolajki, Poland - Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen won a drama-filled Rally of Poland on Sunday (July 3) as overnight leader Ott Tanak of Estonia finished a heartbreaking second after suffering a puncture.
Ford Fiesta's Tanak, dreaming of a first rally victory after taking the lead on Friday, had gone into the final day with an 18sec advantage on Mikkelsen in a Volkswagen Polo.
Mikkelsen was 16.5 seconds adrift going into the final two specials only for the Estonian to suffer a puncture to his front type in the penultimate on a track made muddy and slippery by heavy rain.
Robbed of victory
Tanak said: "It's so hard to have allowed a first victory to slip through my fingers like that. I was in control. I was the fastest special after special. And then the puncture robbed me of victory."
He lost just over 40sec, handing the lead to Mikkelsen who stormed through to his second WRC win by 26.2sec, with New Zealand's Hayden Paddon third for Hyundai at 28.5sec.
Mikkelsen said: "I'm sorry for Ott. I told him before this stage that I know how he feels - it happened to me in Sweden, but that is the way rallying is.
"We pushed so hard all weekend. We gave everything. It was all about luck and we were the lucky ones. A weekend I will never forget."
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier of France finished in sixth place at 40.3sec in a race he is happy to put behind him.
Ogier said: "In these dreadful conditions the only possible satisfaction was to finish. But I can now go on into the second half of the championships with the equivalent of a two race victory lead," added Ogier, who won the two previous editions of the Rally of Poland.