Mikko Hirvonen insists that the two cancelled stages on the final day of Rally Turkey had effectively ended his hopes of fighting for victory on the event.
The BP Ford
Abu Dhabi driver had run near the front of the field throughout the event and headed into the final day running in third place behind Sebastien Loeb
and Petter Solberg.
However, Hirvonen's hopes of trying to close on Loeb to fight for the lead was ended when overnight rain caused organisers to cancel the first two stages of the final day.
That removed a third of the competitive mileage from the day and Hirvonen then suffered a puncture which dropped him to fourth place. Dani Sordo's retirement promoted the Finn back onto the podium and he admitted that third was the best he could have hoped for in the circumstances.
"I decided to chase the victory this morning [Sunday] but the two cancelled stages didn't help me," he said. "The car slid wide at a very fast place and hit a rock, puncturing the tyre. The tyre was destroyed after 10km but we decided to continue and only lost about 45sec, so that was the right decision. The impact also damaged the lining of the wheel arch and the car filled with dust and grit. It was so bad I couldn't see properly.
"We only made one mistake but we ended the day on the podium where we started, so it's not so bad. After what happened, third was the best we could achieve. It's not what I hoped for this weekend but the puncture destroyed my hopes of a win."
Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson admitted that Turkey had been the hardest event of the season so far but said he was pleased to see Hirvonen salvage a podium from the weekend.
"Sadly our chances evaporated with the cancelled stages, but Mikko salvaged third on what was the hardest event in the championship,” he said. “The situation in the manufacturers' championship is virtually unchanged as only one point separated us from our rivals on this rally."