It seems like no sooner have we got over the excitement and drama of the last round of the World Rally Championship, then another one is fast approaching. So as the dust settles on the Rally Italia Sardegna, it is time to look ahead with eager anticipation to round seven of the WRC – the Rally Poland.
This gravel event takes place from 30th June to 3rd July in and around the pretty lakeside town of Mikołajki, located in the Masurian lake district region in the north-east of the country. It will comprise a total of 22 special stages over three legs, with a total competitive distance of around 314 kilometres.
The Rally Poland is one of the oldest events of the world having been held for the first time back in 1921, and was part of the inaugural WRC season in 1973, although it left the calendar after that, became an asphalt event of the European Rally Championship and returned in WRC only in 2009.
It is also one of the fastest events drivers will take part in this year and on the gravel tracks the high speeds can be extremely testing for both drivers and co-drivers.
This year’s route will see drivers take part in a super special stage near the service park in the town of Mikołajki on the Thursday, before the real rallying starts on the Friday with a long day comprising of two loops of four tests to the north-east of the service park and a repeat of the super special stage – a lengthy 122km of rallying in total.
On the Saturday, the action heads further north towards the border with Kaliningrad before a third crack at the same super special stage. Sunday will then host the final four stages closer to Mikołajki and will also include the famous Sady Power Stage.
Experience of driving here before will only be of limited benefit this year as around 33% of the stages has been changed this year by the organisers. Indeed, only four stages remain as they were last year (Mikołajki Arena, Gołdap, Świętajno, Wieliczki), with another two reappearing as they were in previous years (Chmielewo and Stare Juchy).
As well as new routes and high speeds, the other main challenge drivers will face is grass. Many of the stages are lined with tall grass and this can make visibility very tricky, particularly going into corners, as well as hiding potential hazards, such as rocks, which are sat close to the roads. Such conditions make the vital role of the co-driver even more pivotal if a driver is going to maintain speed through the corners and also avoid unwanted incidents.
As a gravel event, the technical specification of all vehicles will include gravel suspensions and soft tyres. There will however also be hard tyres available should any teams need to roll the dice.
As always, there will be eight ŠKODA Fabia R5s participating, including two from the ŠKODA Motorsport team, and all of them will also be looking to continue the good run of form the car has seen in the WRC2 championship so far this season.
And of course, we will be keeping you up to speed with everything that is happening at the Rally Poland right here on the ŠKODA Motorsport website and on our social media channels.