BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen has strengthened his grip on the lead of Neste Oil Rally Finland following the second group of speed tests today.

Hirvonen led the ninth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship by 10.9 seconds in his Focus RS WRC car after the opening loop this morning and then he extended that gap to 28 seconds when the tests were repeated.

After winning all three special stages this morning, Hirvonen was again on it and won the first two tests on the second loop.

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His win on the 20.94 kilometre Himos 2 test was decisive as the 29-year-old was 13.5 seconds faster than his closest rival Sebastien Loeb, who hit a pot hole and punctured the front right tyre.

With his lead doubled, Hirvonen eased his pace for the final stage, the 14.95 kilometre Surkee, and was second fastest.

"His puncture has taken the pressure off a little, but the lead isn't enough for me to relax," explained Hirvonen. "I would like to extend it further this afternoon to make tomorrow easier. I've had no problems but the last section of the last stage was full of ruts and rocks so I was cautious there.

"Today's final test is the longest of the rally and both that and the previous stage are new and have many tricky sections."

Loeb meanwhile has now conceded that the victory is all but out of reach. Indeed having been unable to beat Hirvonen in any of the tests today he now wants to make sure he gets to the finish and takes the runners-up spot.

"On stage 15 there was a big rut in the road which was impossible to avoid. We hit it and the tyre came off the rim, losing all air pressure," Loeb reflected. "For me the rally is over now. I cannot catch Mikko if he continues like this with no mistakes. We will just try and finish in second place."

Jari-Matti Latvala, who is suffering with an upset stomach, is next up and on course for third. The Finn overhauled Dani Sordo in SS16 after topping the times.

"I'm feeling better than I was this morning when I felt so sick that my only goal was not to lose too much time," said Latvala.

"As I felt better my times improved and I was able to move ahead of Sordo. He is driving his best ever Rally Finland but now I've started to take time from him and I want to keep the same pace over the final three afternoon stages."

"I lost third place because Jari-Matti was faster, simple as that," added Sordo, who now trails Latvala by just 1.4 seconds. "At the end of SS16 the car was sliding too much and I thought I might have a puncture but we will check the problem at service. Otherwise we are okay and will see how it goes later on."

Further down the order, Matti Rantanen is still in a lonely fifth on his 'guest' run with the Munchi's squad. The Finn lies almost 2.5 minutes off the battle for P3 and just over 40 seconds up on Mads Ostberg.

"We have no reason to push any more," said Rantanen. "Fifth position is okay. I cannot even think of fighting with the four official boys in front!"

Citroen Junior Team's Sebastien Ogier and Jari Ketomaa round out the provisional points' scorers, the former 2.1 seconds off Ostberg, while Britain's Matthew Wilson and Conrad Rautenbach are ninth and tenth.

Of the rest, BP Ford Abu Dhabi's 'third' driver Khalid Al Qassimi is eleventh followed by Federico Villagra, Group N leader, Juho Hanninen, Anton Alen and Ferrari F1 driver, Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen has again impressed in his Fiat Grande Punto S2000, despite engine difficulties.

"When the engine problem started in the first loop and got worse in the second we ended up driving one gear lower than we should be to stay fast," explained Raikkonen's co-driver, Kaj Lindstrom. "It is frustrating that this happens now, especially as Kimi really feels at ease in the car."

In the Junior World Rally Championship category, Martin Prokop has pulled further away from Kalle Pinomaki. Prokop now has a 40.8 second cushion, with Aaron Burkart third, a further 2 minutes or so back.

In terms of retirements, after Henning Solberg's exit this morning, his brother Petter and Citroen Junior Team's Evgeny Novikov followed soon after. Petter didn't leave service E to start SS14 because of engine problems, while Novikov crashed out again when he went off the road in Leustu 2. Petter and Novikov had both re-joined this morning under the SupeRally format.

Day two now concludes with a third loop of three stages, comprising Urria (SS17), Kavala (SS18) and Vaarinmaja (SS19), the latter the longest of the event at 29.29 kilometres.