BP Ford Abu Dhabi number one driver Mikko Hirvonen
took his third win on the trot and his first on home soil today, when he brought his Focus RS WRC car to finish of the 2009 Neste Oil Rally Finland.
Hirvonen took the lead on the first 'proper' stage on Friday and whilst the battle with arch championship rival, Sebastien Loeb
was tight - both winning four forest stages apiece on day 1 - he still finished the opening leg on top, 3.3 seconds in front.
On Saturday the fight continued, but this time Hirvonen seemed to have the edge, increasing his cushion to 10.9 seconds on the first loop thanks to three stage wins in a row. He then continued to push in the middle loop and was quickest in SS14 and SS15 to stretch the gap even more.
Himos 2 though was to be decisive as the Finn not only took another stage win, but with Loeb hitting a pot hole and picking up a front right puncture, he was 13.5 seconds quicker than the Frenchman.
With his lead doubled, Hirvonen eased his pace ever so slightly in SS16 and thus headed back to service 28 seconds ahead.
In the end following the final loop - and another stage win, his tenth in total on this year's 1000 Lakes, Hirvonen went into the last leg with over 30 seconds in hand.
Sunday was thus a bit of a formality and the 29-year-old could just pace himself through the four stages eventually winning by 25.1 seconds.
The result extends his lead in the battle for the 2009 WRC drivers' title, although it is still very tight with only three points between Hirvonen and Loeb heading to the next event in Australia at the start of September.
“I am really relieved and delighted!” said Hirvonen. “It is absolutely a great feeling! I have been watching this rally as a kid and now to win my home rally with a really great team behind me is just a dream come true."
"I was a spectator on this rally 31 years ago and now I cannot believe I have won it,” added Hirvonen's co-driver, Jarmo Lehtinen. “I am very close to tears."
Meanwhile Sebastien Loeb
had to console himself with the runners-up spot in his Citroen