BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen won the Neste Oil Rally Finland today, to take his first victory on home soil - and his third in succession after also triumphing in Poland and Greece.

Hirvonen, who took the lead in the first 'proper' test on day 1, enjoyed a good scrap with arch championship rival, Sebastien Loeb. However on day 2 he managed to pull ahead and when Loeb picked up a puncture in SS15, the Frenchman was forced to admit defeat and settle for second.

Hirvonen eventually won by 25.1 seconds and the result extends his lead in the battle for the 2009 WRC drivers' title. The 29-year-old will now go to the Rally Australia at the start of next month with a 3 point cushion over Loeb.

Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile took a confidence boosting third, despite suffering with an upset stomach on Saturday. Dani Sordo was next up, having been overhauled by Latvala in SS16. He eventually finished more than 15 seconds further back.

Matti Rantanen held on to take fifth on his 'guest' outing with the Munchi's Ford squad, narrowly holding off a late challenge from Sebastien Ogier, who was just 0.3 seconds behind after the final test. Jari Ketomaa and Britain's Matthew Wilson completed the points' scorers.

There were a number of retirements, including Conrad Rautenbach, who crashed out in the penultimate stage today.

Rautenbach's Citroen Junior team-mate, Evgeny Novikov also failed to finish, crashing out on day 1 and day 2, whilst engine problems stopped Petter Solberg prior to SS14. Like Novikov, Petter had re-joined on day 2 under the SupeRally after an off on Friday.

Ferrari F1 star, Kimi Raikkonen was another of the high profile Rally Finland casualties. His run came to an end on Saturday, when he went off the road in the leg's final test. He had put in an impressive performance though, and was running third in his class and 15th overall just before his exit. Mads Ostberg, who had been in P7 overall, also crashed out in SS19, the 29.29 kilometre Vaarinmaja test - the longest of the event.

Full report and result to follow...


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