BP Ford Abu Dhabi team boss Malcolm Wilson has said that Mikko Hirvonen's victory on the legendary Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend will be a pivotal one for his number one driver.

Hirvonen eventually took the honours on the ninth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship by 25.1 seconds after outclassing five-time World Rally champion and chief championship rival, Sebastien Loeb.

It was another extremely impressive performance from the 29-year-old, who has now won the last three events in succession, and it allowed him to extend his lead in the drivers' championship from one point to three.

"It's been a dream weekend for Ford," Wilson Sr reflected. "Without question, it was Mikko's best drive. Winning Rally Finland is a turning point in his career, but I never doubted he would take victory here one day.

"He has increased his lead in the drivers' standings and the destination of the title could go down to the final round. If you look at his performance it was outstanding and a big step from last year. I think that is a message for S?bastien: there is a little bit more still to come."

Wilson Sr meanwhile was also very happy to see Jari-Matti Latvala finish third in the sister car, especially in light of what happened in Poland and the fact the 24-year-old had a severe upset stomach on day two.

"Jari drove superbly," Wilson Sr continued. "I don't think there has ever been anyone with as much pressure coming into a Championship event, particularly your home rally. To come onto the podium is a great turnaround from where we were in Poland.

"If you think about it, after the results we've had, it is something else to build on for the remaining part of the season.

"Both drivers did exactly what we were looking for and delivered a perfect job for the team."

The result was not only good for Hirvonen's drivers' title challenge however, as the 1-3 also enabled the 'Blue Oval' to close the gap on Citroen in the manufacturers' reducing it from 17 points to 14.

Wilson Sr is now convinced the momentum is with them: "This has been a difficult rally because the gap is always so small and as S?bastien has found, one small incident like he had means that the rally really is lost unless something happens, whereas other rallies you can afford to lose that and pull it back, but here you can't do that.

"I must admit I am really looking forward to Rally Australia now [the next round in the series]. It's a completely new event and Mikko has a great track record on new rallies, so all we have to stop is the 'S?bastien Loeb Factor' in Spain and I think we are well on the way to the Championship," he concluded.


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