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Hirvonen heads pack in Poland post-SS4

Mikko Hirvonen has taken the early initiative on Rally Poland - and after Sebastien Loeb crashed out, he is now in a great position to do some serious damage to the Frenchman's seven-point lead in the drivers' championship.

Hirvonen, who was quickest this morning in SS2 and SS3, grabbed the lead following the 11.34 kilometre Pianki 1 test.

He then saw his advantage increase to 2.4 seconds, when Loeb went off early on in Paprotki 1 - the longest stage of the event at 33.17 kilometres - and hit a tree stump.

The Frenchman was unable to continue. It is not yet known if he will be able to re-start on Saturday under the SupeRally.

“I want ten points from here and after Seb's accident I must think about the championship now,” said Hirvonen, who is second in the standings. "I want to drive safely, but flat out – if such a thing is possible!

“After I saw Seb's car off the road I eased my pace because I didn't want to make the same mistake. The roads are damp and very, very fast.

“They're also soft in places so they may cut up during the second pass this afternoon."

Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile is 'best of the rest' in the sister BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT-run Focus RS WRC, having moved up from third to second after Loeb's second off in as many events.

Latvala was third quickest in the opening two tests, before topping the times in SS4, to pull ahead of Dani Sordo in third - and close the gap on his team-mate in P1.

"The roads are so fast that it took the first two stages for my brain to get used to the pace," Latvala explained. "Loeb crashed in a narrow area with lots of tree stumps and I was cautious through that section.

“The surface is soft in places and I expect the last two stages in the loop will be rutted and more challenging this afternoon.

“The grip changed constantly. When the surface was hard it was slippery and when it was softer and sandy then the grip was better. The crowds are huge – it's just like competing on my home rally in Finland."




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Monza, [Credit: Hyundai Motorsport]
Podium 1st Australian - Molly Taylor (AUS) Bill Hayes (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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