Mikko Hirvonen's chances of claiming the 2009 WRC drivers' title took a knock on this morning's stages in the Rally of Great Britain.
The Finn had reduced Sebastian Loeb's lead by 2.4s on Saturday's opening stage but when competitors moved into Crychan forest, SS8, Hirvonen dropped more than 10 seconds on Loeb's Citroen.
At the end of the stage Hirvonen said: “It's a driveshaft problem, but we don't know what type.”
Yesterday, his BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was slowed dramatically by a broken driveshaft and currently lies down in eighth place, over 7 minutes off the battle for P1.
After dropping another 10 seconds on the next test - Halfway, SS9, Hirvonen was less specific about the problems he was facing.
Shaking his head in disgust at the time card he said: “Something is wrong. I'm having a good drive but not going anywhere.”
Loeb, who was second best in SS7 and fastest in SS8 and SS9, consequently now leads by 25 seconds.
Meanwhile third placed Dani Sordo extended his advantage over Petter Solberg, who remains fourth having dropped a position on the opening stage of the day when his windscreen wipers failed. At the end of Halfway, the Norwegian driver said: “I drove flat out. I have to do something but Loeb is really impressive this morning.”
Further down the order there were no other changes in SS8 and SS9, with Sebastien Ogier still fifth followed by Henning Solberg, Matt Wilson, Jari-Matti Latvala, Conrad Rautenbach and Aaron Burkart. Latvala and Burkart both gained a place in SS7, but made no further progress.
Competitors now head to Cardiff and a service halt before repeating this morning's three stages.
Overall times after SS9 / Top 15:
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 1hour 53mins 48.5secs
2. Mikko Hirvonen
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +00mins 25.0secs
3. Dani Sordo
Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +01mins 02.5secs
4. Petter Solberg
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +01mins 26.1secs
5. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +03mins 44.6secs
6. Henning Solberg
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +04mins 27.0secs
7. Matthew Wilson
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +05mins 21.3secs
8. Jari-Matti Latvala
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +07mins 40.4secs
9. Conrad Rautenbach
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +09mins 02.9secs
10. Aaron Burkart
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +12mins 04.5secs
11. Eyvind Brynildsen
Skoda Fabia S2000 +12mins 41.7secs
12. Martin Prokop
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo +14mins 22.5secs
13. Armindo Araujo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo +14mins 27.1secs
14. Steve Perez
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +15mins 29.0secs
15. Toshi Arai
Subaru Impreza N14 +15mins 40.5secs
Overall PWRC after SS9 / Top 3:
1. Eyvind Brynildsen
Skoda Fabia S2000 2hours 06mins 30.2secs
2. Martin Prokop
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo +01mins 40.8secs
3. Toshi Arai
Subaru Impreza N14 +02mins 58.8secs
SS3. Mads Ostberg
Adapta Subaru Impreza WRC Suspension
* denotes elected/able to re-start under SupeRally format.
M - denotes Manufacturer entry.
MT - denotes Manufacturer Team entry.
P - denotes Production WRC entry.
all times unofficial
by Peter Hughes – Rally of Great Britain press office /
edits and additional notes by Crash.net