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Having arrived in Poland, the DS 3 WRCs are going to up the pace. On much smoother, flowing roads than in Argentina, Portugal and Italy, the WRC kicks off a high-speed summer in Poland, before heading for Finland. In Mikołajki, Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle will be driving the two DS 3 WRCs entered. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team lies second in the Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship just ahead of the halfway point of the season. Before heading for Poland, Kris Meeke took part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in a DS 3 WRC.

After Argentina, Portugal and Italy, three rallies that once again lived up to their reputation as rough, demanding events, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team arrives in Poland to start the summer at a difference pace.

Average speeds on the stages around Mikołajki were close to 120kph in 2014. Rally Poland serves up a unique route on the calendar, with some very fast sections. More so than anywhere else, performance is dictated here by the commitment of the driver and the set-up of the WRCs.

For the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, the aim is therefore to find solutions that will give the crews plenty of confidence. The DS 3 WRCs have been prepared to absorb vertical loads as much as possible at very high speeds.

The revised itinerary is not expected to change the character of the event dramatically; the roads will be very smooth and flowing on the opening pass, with deeper lines on the second runs. As the aerodynamics of the cars cannot be altered, it is necessary to work on the chassis and suspension to help the drivers go fast.

On such a quick surface, the work of the tyres is also very different. The versatility of the soft compound Michelin LTX Force S4 tyres will help optimise the grip levels on these roads. The upgrade delivered in the second half of the 2014 season has already proven successful and is expected to be especially competitive in Poland.

Currently lying second in the World Rally Championship, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson are the only crew to have scored points at every round so far this year. In fact, they are on a run of nine consecutive points-finishes in the DS 3 WRC. Meanwhile, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle are seventh in the standings and could therefore enjoy a cleaned racing line during the first two days of the rally.

Entered in the FIA WRC2 Championship, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot will once again be competing in a DS 3 RRC. This event, won by Stéphane Lefebvre last year on his way to the FIA Junior WRC title, has played an important part in the development of the young French driver. He will continue his season in this category in Finland, before tackling Rallye Deutschland in August in a DS 3 WRC.

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Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is able to count on its experience as we go into Rally Poland. Although 90% of the route has been changed, we know how to deal with the specific features of the road surface. It will be an interesting event from a sporting point of view, with fast, technical and demanding roads. Our drivers like the stages. Mads showed his speed last year and Kris is getting to know the region very well after making his first appearance here in 2006. We have prepared for this round with the hope of coming away with a good result. It will be vital to collect a large haul of points for the Manufacturers’ standings to consolidate our second position in the World Championship.”

Mads Østberg: “The itinerary is probably closer now to that of Rally Finland. The speeds are very high and you can push without worrying too much about tyre wear. After contesting several rough rallies in a row, we’ll be able to drive differently here. I have some excellent memories from our last few outings in Poland, because we have always been quick on this surface. We’ll have to make the most of the conditions and be as competitive as we were in Sardinia to try and secure a good result again. We will be relying upon our experience when working on the set-up, but it is difficult to know where we will be. We’ll have to start at a good pace and, if everything goes well, we should be able to fight for a place on the podium.”

Kris Meeke: “Before leaving for Poland, I took part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It’s a big event for all motorsports fans and I have to say it’s something quite special for the drivers too. There are people from all forms of motorsport together in one place and we’re removed from the pressures of pure racing. I was very happy to put on a demo of the DS 3 WRC there. Following three rough gravel events, I’m pleased to be back on a fast course. Even though 90% of the roads are new or altered this year, the character won’t have changed and I like this type of stage. We were competitive in the earlier rounds, especially when we won in Argentina, and the DS 3 WRC performs very well at high speed. For a driver, these roads call for commitment and courage. I like that and I hope we can fight for a spot on the podium.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I have taken part in Rally Poland for the last two years in the FIA Junior WRC. I enjoy driving on very fast roads like these, which are going to make a change from the fairly rough routes we have competed on recently. In Sardinia, we learned a lot about the DS 3 RRC. We still have room for improvement as regards our pace notes system, but we have a car we can win in. The aim is therefore to secure a good result. I also feel like I have a bit more freedom to push now. I’m equally bearing in mind that I need to be ready for Rallye Deutschland, where I’ll be competing in a DS 3 WRC.”

A NEW ROUTE BUT THE SAME CHARACTER

The 2015 route features nineteen special stages, partly borrowed from the 2009 and 2014 itineraries. A few of them will be entirely new for the keenest followers of the event. But only forty kilometres or so are shared with last year’s route.

The route runs through the Masurian lake district. After this morning’s shakedown, the ceremonial start will be held in the city centre of Mikołajki at 16:00. Three hours later, the Mikołajki Arena super-special stage will establish an initial pecking order.

On Friday morning, the crews will set off in the order of the World Championship standings for a loop of four stages featuring Gorklo (13km), Goldap (14.75km), Babki (14.65km) and Stanczyki (39.12km), the rally’s longest test. Although there is no midday service, the drivers and co-drivers will be able to change tyres before tackling Babki, Stanczyki and Goldap for a second time and then finishing the leg in the Mikołajki Arena. The cars are due back in service at 19:35.

Parc ferme will open at 6:40 on Saturday for stages held a little further to the south than on day one. Still competing in the order of the championship standings, the drivers will contest Mazury (8.25km), Wieliczki (12.87km), Swietajno (21.25km) and Paprotki (23.15km) before heading for a 30-minute service at 13:38. In the afternoon, the crews will complete second runs on Mazury, Wieliczki and Swietajno before a final pass on the Mikołajki Arena super special stage.

On Saturday, the cars still in the race will stay close to the service park. The final leg will involve two runs on Baranowo (14.60km), completed in reverse order of the rally’s overall standings. The final test, which will also serve as the Power Stage, will be shown live on television from midday (GMT+2). The rally is scheduled to finish in the centre of Mikołajki from 14:00.

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