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Andreas Mikkelsen snatched a dramatic last-gasp victory at PZM 73rd Rally Poland on Sunday afternoon when long-time leader Ott Tänak was cruelly deprived of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship win.

Tänak’s Ford Fiesta RS suffered a puncture in the penultimate rain-soaked speed test, wiping out his near-20sec lead and allowing Mikkelsen to claim a second career success. He became the sixth different winner in the last six rounds of a hugely unpredictable season.
 
“We pushed so hard all weekend and with the weather as it was today we knew it was going to be difficult and we gave it everything. It was like a war in the penultimate stage and it was all about luck, who got out without problems, and we were the lucky ones.
 
Mikkelsen commiserated with the Estonian, having been on the receiving end of a similar situation when he spun out of the lead in Sweden in 2015 in the final test.
 
“I told Ott before the final stage that I felt so sorry for him. It would have been an adventure story but that’s the way rallying is. It’s very unpredictable,” said Mikkelsen, who climbed to second in the points.
 
Tänak had excelled on the sandy but lightning fast roads since Friday afternoon and was inconsolable at the finish. “There’s nothing I can say. All this and then you get nothing, it’s too hard,” he said.
 
Tanak-heartbreakOtt Tanak was devastated after a penultimate stage puncture cost him victory in Poland.Hayden Paddon completed the podium in a Hyundai i20, 2.3sec behind Tänak, to end a run of accidents in the previous two rounds. However, the New Zealander almost relaxed too much in the final stage, allowing team-mate Thierry Neuville to close to within 0.8sec.
 
Jari-Matti Latvala finished fifth, a further 4.5sec back in a Volkswagen Polo R. Team-mate Sébastien Ogier was sixth, the championship leader admitting conditions were so bad that simply surviving the final day was his sole aim.
 
Craig Breen was seventh in a DS 3, moving up after team-mate Stéphane Lefebvre smashed his car’s rear left suspension after spinning into a tree. The Frenchman eventually finished ninth.
 
Mads Østberg overhauled both Lefebvre and team-mate Eric Camilli, who limped through the final stage with damaged suspension on his Fiesta RS after going off the road in the previous test. Camilli took 10th.
 
Dani Sordo retired after firstly slamming his i20 in chicane bales and then damaging his rear suspension against a tree.
 
Poland marked the midpoint of the 14-round campaign and the second half begins with Neste Rally Finland which is based in Jyväskylä on 28 - 31 July.     

2016 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7, Rally Poland
Overall Final Classification
1.         A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:37:34.4
2.         O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +26.2
3.         H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +28.5
4.         T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +29.3
5.         J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +33.8
6.         S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +40.3
7.         C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:01.4
8.         M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:04.6
9.         E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:23.1
10.        T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Škoda Fabia R5) +5:53.3
 
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
S. Ogier 143 points / A. Mikkelsen 92 / H. Paddon 72 / J. M. Latvala 68 / D. Sordo 68 / M. Østberg 62 / T. Neuville 61 / O. Tanak 52  / K. Meeke 26 / E. Camilli  24 / H. Solberg 14 / M. Prokop 12 / S. Lefebvre 10 / C. Breen 10 / T. Suninen 8 / E. Evans 6 / M. Ligato 6 / L. Bertelli 4 / P. Tidemand / E. Lappi 2 / N. Fuchs 2 / K. Abbring 2 / A. Kremer 1 / V. Gorban 1 / J. Kopecky 1
 
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
Volkswagen Motorsport 196 points / Hyundai Motorsport 135 / M-Sport World Rally Team 100  / Volkswagen Motorsport II 99 / Hyundai Motorsport N 78 / DMACK World Rally Team 58 / Jipocar Czech National Team 18 / Yazeed Racing 6
 
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.

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