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Hirvonen sees lead slashed in Poland

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team leader Mikko Hirvonen has seen his Rally Poland lead cut to just 3 seconds this morning following the opening loop.

Hirvonen, who began the second leg with an 8.9 second cushion, actually managed to increase his lead to just over 10 seconds in the first test of the day, when he was 'best of the rest' through Danowo 1, 0.7 seconds off the stage winner, SupeRally re-starter, Sebastien Loeb.

However, the Finn struggled somewhat in SS9 and SS10, and could only post the seventh best time in Gawliki and the sixth quickest effort in Wydminy.

Subsequently his lead was cut right back and now his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and more significantly, Citroen's Dani Sordo, are both that much closer and both that much more of a threat.

"It has been a proper fight this morning," said Hirvonen. "Sordo is attacking hard in third, so Jari-Matti has to drive flat out to keep ahead of him and I have to drive at maximum to stay in front of Jari-Matti.

“I've struggled a little with being first through the stages, which I didn't expect. The road surface is damp with hard mud on top after the rain and I'm breaking the surface up to leave better grip for those behind. I made adjustments between the stages to make the car set-up softer to obtain better grip."

Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile was third quickest in the opening stage and then fourth and fifth in the next two.

Despite not wanting to put his team-mate under pressure and fight for the win, he was left with no choice as Sordo was on a charge, winning SS9, and closing the gap between them from nearly 30 seconds overnight to just over 15 heading into the mid-day halt.

"I've had no choice but to drive hard this morning,” Latvala confirmed. “Sordo is pushing hard and my goal is to keep him behind me to preserve our one-two on the leaderboard, so I had to keep my pace high as well.

“I don't want to battle with Mikko or put pressure on him but Sordo is making me. If, in trying to stay in front of Sordo, I move ahead of Mikko then at least that still keeps Ford in the top two places.”




Related Pictures

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Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - 1st place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team, 2nd place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
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21.05.2017 - HIROKI ARAI (JPN) - GLENN MACNEALL (AUS) FORD FIESTA R5, TOMMI MÄKINEN RACING
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21.05.2017 - TEEMU SUNINEN (FIN) - MIKKO MARKKULA (FIN) FORD FIESTA R5, M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
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21.05.2017 - SHEIK KHALID AL QASSIMI (ARE) - CHRIS PATTERSON (GBR) CITROEN C3 WRC, CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
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