Rally Poland marks Italian driver Max Rendina’s penultimate round in the FIA WRC 2 Championship Group N Cup. With five rounds done and one to go, Rendina currently leads the Group N Cup standings by 32 points, but each result remains critical since his two key competitors Juan Carlos Alonso and Ramon Torres have both completed less rounds than Rendina in their campaign for the Group N Cup title.
Yesterday morning Rendina kicked off his Rally Poland challenge with three runs of the Shakedown stage. His first ever outing in Poland, Rendina was relying on these loops to find the right feeling with his Ralliart Italy-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. Unfortunately, he didn’t feel confident with the car and struggled to find a good rhythm due to a lack of grip. Hopeful of an improvement in the rally proper, he changed the suspension settings ahead of the first competitive test this afternoon to try and get the optimum result from his tyres.
Rendina started the day focused on finishing all the stages unperturbed, clear in the knowledge that his limited traction would cost him dearly on the first pass of each stage. Intent on not losing too much time to either Alonso or Torres, Rendina set off into SS1. Failing to find the right feeling on the opening test, Rendina worked on his Mitsubishi between the stages to try and increase his grip on SS2. A steady run left him second, 24 seconds behind first-placed Alonso, but 8.5 seconds ahead of Torres.
SS3 Mikolajki Arena marked Rendina’s first Group N Cup stage win of the event. A short 2.5 kilometre stage, the victory still increased Rendina’s confidence as he headed to the overnight halt: “It was good to win the evening stage. We didn’t have to focus on conserving our tyres, being careful of unforeseen rocks or changes in surface, so we could push a little for the first time today. I’m really conscious that the Group N Cup standings as well as the event result for Rally Poland are very important, so I really hope that my co-driver Mario and I can pick up some good points this weekend.”
Ralliart Italy Team Manager Bruno De Pianto thinks Rendina has a sensible strategy for this event, which should put him in a strong position for a good result: “Max may not know Rally Poland, but he’s experienced in driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X and we’ve seen him take three Group N Cup victories so far this season, all in countries he’d never competed in before. I agree that he has to take it steady this weekend and I hope that if he stays focused he can put in a strong result.”
Friday’s itinerary offers 90.06 kilometres of competitive stages and for the first time at Rally Poland a lunchtime remote service over the border into Lithuania. Tonight’s 45 minute Flexiservice gives Ralliart Italy a good opportunity to make sure Rendina’s Mitsubishi is in top shape before the challenging day ahead of him.