BP Ford Abu Dhabi number one driver Mikko Hirvonen
took the victory on the 66th Rally Poland this weekend - and as a result he now moves ahead of Sebastien Loeb
to the top of the drivers' standings.
Hirvonen, who came into the eighth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship trailing the five-time world champion by seven points, took the lead in the second stage on Friday.
He then saw his advantage at the top of the leader-board increase, when Seb made a crucial mistake and went off the road in the next test, hitting a tree stump and damaging the suspension on his Citroen
C4 WRC. The Frenchman was unable to continue and retired from the leg.
That handed Mikko a great chance to close the gap - and take the lead in the race for the drivers' crown, and he grabbed it with both hands.
On Friday afternoon, he initially came under a bit of pressure from his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, before a flier of a time in SS6 allowed him to pull out a bit of a cushion. He subsequently finished the first day 8.9 seconds in front.
On Saturday the fight continued and following SS8, SS9 and SS10, Hirvonen saw his advantage slashed to just 3 seconds. However on the repeat runs through he took back control and in the first test beat his closest rivals by over 6 seconds.
Hirvonen then consolidated his position in SS12 and SS13, before heading into the overnight halt 12 seconds in front.
The final day ended up being a bit of a formality for the Finn and he paced himself through the final five stages to take the victory, his second in a row.
He will now go to his home event in Finland at the end of next month, following the WRC's four-week summer break, with a one-point lead over Loeb in the drivers' standings.
“It is unbelievable to win the event. What a fantastic, exciting rally,” said Hirvonen. “I have the lead now in the championship and the next event is at home in Finland.”