31 March 2012
Hirvonen gains more ground
Mikko Hirvonen will start the fourth and final day on Sunday in Portugal with a 1 minute 11.9 second advantage over Mads Ostberg; Evgeny Novikov is third followed by Nasser Al-Attiyah and Petter Solberg...
Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen remains in the lead of Rally de Portugal at the close of day three.
Hirvonen started today's action with a 36.3 second cushion and he proceeded to increase that to 47.5 seconds this morning on the opening loop. He then gained further ground this afternoon and he eventually headed back to service after SS16 with his overnight margin almost doubled.
“It's been good,” Hirvonen reflected. “We managed to take some time out of the others. The lead is a little bigger. A very steady and safe drive. We need to make sure we're still there at the end of the rally. I've been listening to every sound and every knock!”
Mads Ostberg is second, although he is now 1 minute 11.9 seconds adrift of Hirvonen in his Adapta WRT-run Ford Fiesta Rs WRC car.
Evgeny Novikov completes the provisional podium, 29.1 seconds further back and almost 4.5 minutes up on Nasser Al-Attiyah's Citroen DS3 WRC in fourth: “It was a really good day, but I couldn't push on the first section because of a misfire,” Novikov reflected. “Then I had problems in the second [loop]. I would have liked to have gone faster. I need to drive faster.”
Behind, Petter Solberg fought his way back from 13th, after his off yesterday in SS6, to end the day in fifth, setting the pace in four of the days six tests. He would have been in fourth overall too, but for power steering problems in the final test of the day that cost him time. He now lies 16.4 seconds off P4.
His Ford team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala also re-started under the Rally 2 format – along with a number of other runners – however he had a more trying day, with fuel pressure problems in SS14 costing him over 10 minutes. He is currently 18th in the classification.
Meanwhile, Martin Prokop rounds out the top six, ahead of Dennis Kuipers and Volkswagen Motorsport man, Sebastien Ogier in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
Of the rest, Peter van Merksteijn Jr and Jari Ketomaa ended the day ninth and tenth respectively, with Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo, Ott Tanak, Daniel Oliveira and Yazeed Al-Rajhi in positions 11 through to 15, the latter set for the SWRC win, over 8 minutes up on his nearest class rival.
In terms of retirements, with the weather much improved today, only two drivers went out and both in the final loop. Patrik Sandell went off the road in SS14, with fellow MINI runner Armindo Araujo joining him on the sidelines just one stage later, when he ripped off a wheel. It has yet to be confirmed if they will re-join under the Rally 2 regulations. Sandell had been in fourth, while Araujo was in P11.
Rally de Portugal now concludes on Sunday, with two loops of three stages on the bill, totalling around 115 competitive kilometres. SS17, the 21.42 km Silves 1 test, is due to start at 08.52 hours local time.
Rally de Portugal: Overall standings after Stage 16 (Top 10):
1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 59mins 33.6secs M
2. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 11.9secs M
3. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 41.2secs M
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +06mins 10.1secs M
5. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 26.5secs M
6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 47.5secs
7. Dennis Kuipers M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +07mins 29.8secs
8. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +08mins 00.2secs
9. Peter van Merksteijn Jr van Merksteijn Motorsport Citroen DS3 WRC +08mins 38.7secs
10. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11mins 36.7secs
11. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +11mins 41.1secs M
12. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +12mins 30.2secs
13. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +12mins 46.4secs M
14. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +13mins 35.0secs M
15. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RCC +16mins 51.8secs S
16. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +17mins 24.2secs#
17. Patrik Sandell Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +18mins 02.2secs#
18. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +22mins 27.0secs M
19. Maciej Oleksowicz Ford Fiesta S2000 +25mins 15.8secs S
20. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 +26mins 09.5secs S
# assumes will continue under Rally 2
SWRC standings after Stage 16 – Top 3:
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RCC 3hours 16mins 25.4secs S
2. Maciej Oleksowicz Ford Fiesta S2000 +08mins 24.0secs S
3. Pedro Meireles Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X R4 +09mins 17.7secs S
WRC Academy standings after Stage 13 - Top 10#:
1. Alastair Fisher Ford Fiesta R2 2hours 32mins 02.9secs A
2. Brendan Reeves Ford Fiesta R2 +00mins 40.3secs A
3. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +01mins 55.7secs A
4. Timo van der Marel Ford Fiesta R2 +05mins 05.0secs A
5. Jose Antonio Suarez Ford Fiesta RS +07mins 34.5secs A
6. Fredrik Ahlin Ford Fiesta RS +10mins 16.7secs A
7. Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta RS +15mins 55.3secs A
8. Joao Silva Ford Fiesta RS +17mins 14.8secs A
# WRC Academy event ended after SS13
DNS. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Did not start – crashed in Qualifying stage
DNS. Kevin Abbring VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Did not start – crashed in shakedown
SS2. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC Did not start SS2*
SS3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC Went off the road M
SS5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M*
SS5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M*
SS5. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Stopped in test M*
SS5. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 Stopped in stage S*
SS6. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M*
SS6. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 Mechanical S
SS14. Patrik Sandell Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC Went off the road
SS15. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Lost a wheel
* denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial
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