WRC »

Hirvonen clings on as Loeb looms.

Mikko Hirvonen has maintained his lead on the Rally New Zealand following the first loop of stages for leg two, but his previously comfortable advantage has been reduced to 6.8secs as he struggles to cope as the first driver out on the road.

With just the short stage at Mystery Creek left to run before the cars return to the service park, Hirvonen has gamely clung onto his advantage after three long stages, but dropped time to Loeb in each of those and is now on course to be overtaken by the end of the day.

Indeed, while Hirvonen kept Loeb honest on SS9, he lost a considerable amount of time through the lengthy 31km Franklin stage as he battles to find the grip beneath the substantial layer of gravel that marks out today's drier stages.

“I managed to hold him off on the damp section near the start, but on the last 15km it was completely dry and when it's like that it's tough,” the Finn said.

With another 67km of running remaining today, Loeb will probably overtake Hirvonen before the end of the day, provided tactics are not employed. For the Frenchman though, he thinks he will need a 20 second buffer to resist Hirvonen on the third leg.

“It's good to be second on the road,” he said. “It certainly helps - although it's not easy. In some places I took time from Mikko easily, but in others it was impossible. So far it's a perfect outcome for the first loop, but there are still two long stages to go and I reckon I'll need a 20-second lead tonight.”

While Hirvonen flounders up at the front, Ford could nonetheless have an ace up their sleeve in the shape of Latvala, who is playing himself back into contention after a strong start to the day. A fastest time on SS10 means he is just 14secs behind Hirvonen and in with a shout of slotting himself between his team-mate and Loeb, a move that could give Hirvonen a prime starting position on the final day of competition – provided Loeb does indeed take the lead.

By contrast, Citroen will be disappointed to see Dani Sordo fall away from the lead battle. Although the Spaniard has been largely on the pace, he lies 25.8secs adrift now.

Elsewhere, there was little movement inside the top ten, with Francois Duval continuing his quiet rally in fifth place, the Belgian pumping in consistent times to go more than a minute up from Urmo Aava.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC 07
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Hiroki ARAI (JPN) - Glenn MACNEALL (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5, Tommi Mäkinen Racing
12.02.2017 - Alexey LUKYANUK (RUS) - Alexey ARNAUTOV (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Jarosław KOLTUN (POL) - Ireneusz PLESKOT (POL) Ford Fiesta R5, C‐Rally
12.02.2017 - Eyvind BRYNILDSEN (NOR) - Anders FREDRIKSSON (SWE) Ford Fiesta R5 Adapta Motorsport AS
12.02.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
12.02.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
12.02.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
12.02.2017 - Podium WRC 2, 1st place Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport, 2nd place Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - WRC 2, Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport race winner
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.