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Hirvonen joins legends with Rally Finland win

BP Ford Abu Dhabi number one driver Mikko Hirvonen fulfilled a childhood dream by winning the legendary Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend in front of his home town fans in Jyväskylä.

Hirvonen, who celebrated his 29th birthday during the opening leg on Friday, led for all but the first couple of kilometres in his M-Sport-run Focus RS WRC car, winning ten stages in total en-route to the victory.

Hirvonen steadily pulled away from closest rival and championship protagonist Sébastien Loeb and when the Frenchman damaged a tyre on Saturday afternoon, he was able to measure his pace, reduce the risks and bring his car home to notch up an emotional win in front of his family and friends.

It was his third straight triumph and meant he extended his lead in the battle for the 2009 WRC drivers' title to three points with three rounds to go.

"I have been following the rally since I was a kid and if you look at the list of drivers who have won it before it is very impressive," Hirvonen reflected. "Now I have won here myself and joined so many of the sport's legends who have taken the victory here. This is definitely one of the best wins in my career. After the last stage I was shaking. I couldn't believe I had actually won it.

"Like I said, for me the biggest thing was being up there with all the great Finnish drivers: [Markku] Alen, [Ari] Vatanen, [Hannu] Mikkola and [Tommi] Mäkinen have all won it and they are my biggest heroes. And now I manage to win it as well, so it feels really good.

"It's such a fantastic sensation to win my home rally that I can't put my feelings into words. It has been such a great weekend for the team that there will be big celebrations tonight.

"I felt in control throughout the rally. It was a great battle with Loeb and when he had a problem, I could afford to take it a little bit easier.

"I felt really confident before this event though, and everybody said you must have lots of pressure coming to your home event with the Championship so close, but I didn't feel the pressure at all.




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
Podium, Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (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

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Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

August 04, 2009 10:15 AM

Well what a fantastic weekend it was. Mikko did what most people hoped he would do. He not only beat Seb to the finish but he did it in real style, pulling away from the champ leaving him to admit he was powerless to stop Mikko. Its a Beautiful country with incredible roads, friendly people, stunning birds, and now a Finnish Winner again. It would be nice for Mikko to win the title this year but Citroen I think will have a few tricks up its sleeve to try and stop Mikko, one trick in particular which should be announced soon. I hope Mikko can win another two rallies, if he can this will make winning the title even sweater.

Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

August 04, 2009 1:52 PM

Im sorry but I cant tell you any more other than both Ford and Citroen and searching for solutions as to how to give their drivers the best chance of winning the WRC title right now. Its not a trick as such, but obviously they are looking at a broad spectrum of options. There is only a limited number of drivers points available and each point is crucial and thats all I can say. I think this part of the championship is the most interesting. I keep saying that we have a fantastic Sport. There are many F1 drivers who would love to be top Rally Drivers. There were a few in the Service area in Finland just having a butchers...and one as we know doing the Rally. I was impressed with Kimi.



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