Fri 19 May 2023

Exciting ERC contest in store after super-close Poland Qualifying Stage

The third round of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship is all set for an exciting battle for glory following a hugely close ORLEN 79th Rally Poland Qualifying Stage earlier today (Friday).

Miko Marczyk, the winner of his home round of the ERC last season, was fastest through the 3.46km Baranowo test in his Michelin-equipped Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, clocking a pacesetting 1min 55.116sec effort, as only 0.516sec separated the Polish talent and Mads Østberg, who was fifth quickest in a Citroën C3 Rally2 on MRF tyres.

Finnish champion Mikko Heikkilä, driving a previous-specification Fabia Rally2 Evo on Michelin tyres, was second fastest, 0.097sec down on Marczyk with ERC points leader Hayden Paddon third in his Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2. New Zealander Paddon trailed Heikkilä by a scant 0.192s as Mārtiṇš Sesks went fourth quickest in an MRF-shod Fabia.

Tom Kristensson, the reigning Polish champion, was sixth with Joshua McErlean seventh followed by Rally Islas Canarias Power Stage winner Andrea Mabellini. French gravel champion Mathieu Franceschi was ninth with multiple Romanian champion Simone Tempestini 10th.

Filip Mareš, Pontus Tidemand, Erik Cais, Dennis Rådström and European champion Efrén Llarena completed the top 15 but Polish driver Rafał Kwiatkowski failed to set a time after a heavy crash. However, both he and Kamil Kozdroń were uninjured.

The Qualifying Stage took place in overcast and relatively cool but largely dry conditions. The results will be used to help determine the starting order for Saturday’s stages with the Start Order Selection ceremony taking place in the main square of rally host town Mikołajki from 16:30 local time.

Following the Ceremonial Start at 17:00, SSS1 Mikołajki Arena is due to begin at 18:30 with crews tackling the 2.50km super special in pairs in an early head-to-head battle for supremacy.

ORLEN 79th Rally Poland also marks the start of the 10th FIA ERC Junior Championship season with 16 young talents competing in Hankook-equipped Rally4 and Rally5 cars.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM