Behind Hirvonen, Henning Solberg
and Chris Atkinson
enjoyed a good squabble for fourth. Henning looked to have lost the place this morning when Atkinson pulled in front and inched away.
The Aussie made a mistake in SS18 though and lost around a minute, when he went off the road in his Citroen
Junior Team-run C4 WRC. That handed the position back to Henning, who was delighted with the result and declared that this was probably one of his best ever rallies.
2008 Junior World Rally champion, Sebastien Ogier
rounded out the top six, albeit over 3.5 minutes off the battle for P4. Ogier struggled a bit on the first loop on Friday and then lost around 2 minutes on the first stage on Saturday, when he went off the road in his C4 WRC. Apart from that though the Frenchman was again impressive posting twelve top-eight times, including two fourths.
Britain's Matthew Wilson
was next up and 30 seconds off Ogier, while Khalid Al-Qassimi took eighth and the final point - his first at this level - in the 'third' BP Ford
Abu Dhabi WRT Focus RS WRC08.
Further down the order current Irish Tarmac Rally champion, Eamonn Boland was ninth, the top local star, followed by Urmo Aava.
Aava led early on and looked set for a good result on his debut with the Stobart
Ford team until a mistake in SS6 when he went off the road. He re-started on day two and hauled himself up from 18th to tenth.
Fellow Ford runner, Jari-Matti Latvala
and Conrad Rautenbach
also had problems and utilised the SupeRally rule to finish, coming home 14th and 18th respectively. Jari-Matti made a great start and took the lead in SS1, before going off in SS2. Rautenbach also went off, but on day two, in SS9. He had been in fifth.
Of the rest Aaron MacHale, Tim McNulty and Shaun Gallagher came in 11th, 12th and 13th, the latter taking the Group N win, while Gary Jennings was 15th, 40 seconds behind Latvala, followed by Aaron Burkart.
Burkart, who has switched to using a Suzuki Swift S1600 this year, finished 47 seconds up on Martin Prokop to claim his maiden win in the Junior World Rally Championshp. The German had been engaged in a close battle with Hans Weijs Jr. But Hans crashed out in the final stage on Saturday and hit a tree.
Other permanent retirees included Gareth MacHale, who had been in the points, until mechanical problems slowed him late on day two.