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Japan - leg 3: Mikko paces himself to victory.

Mikko Hirvonen came through to take the victory on the Rally Japan on Sunday after a number of the other works' drivers made mistakes during the three-day event and went off the road.

The BP Ford #2 driver began with the fourth best time in SS1 on Friday, before moving up to third overall in SS2 and then second in SS4, following the retirement of his team-mate, Marcus Gronholm. Heading into the mid-day service he trailed Ford 'B' team member, Jari-Matti Latvala by 5 seconds.

Hirvonen though put in a push on the repeat loop, overhauling Latvala in SS7, when he posted his first stage win of the event.

He then proceeded to pull away from Latvala and Sebastien Loeb in SS7 and SS8 and following the two runs through the Obihiro super special stages ended the first leg with a 10.3 second advantage.

Day two was again tricky for the drivers' and following heavy overnight rain the stages were extremely slippery.

Hirvonen lost out to Seb on the first test on Saturday, although only by a fraction, as he was just 0.1 seconds slower. Hirvonen then set the pace in the next test, Puray 1 - the longest of the event, but with Seb only 0.4 seconds behind it was extremely close.

The next stage though turned out to be the turning point and when Loeb and Latvala both went off, Mikko found himself comfortably in front, more than 40 seconds up on Daniel Sordo.

Following SS14, the Finn returned to the mid-day service area 50.6 seconds up on the Spaniard.

In the afternoon loop the BP Ford #2 continued to push, and once again he set top three times in every single stage, just like he had in the morning.

Following the super specials Hirvonen ended the day with a 38.4 second advantage and well on course to take his second WRC win of the year and the third of his career, to add to his triumphs in Norway and Australia.

Sunday turned out to be a mere formality and Mikko sauntered to the finish, eventually taking the honours by 37.4 seconds.

“I'm really happy,” said the Finn at the finish. “It was a difficult weekend. I'm just glad that we could help Marcus. During the whole event the car has been perfect and I was able to fight at the top. So it's a good omen before Ireland and GB.”



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen celebrate their victory. Rally Japan 2007. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / www.worldrallypics.com]
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen celebrate their victory. Rally Japan 2007. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / www.worldrallypics.com]
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen celebrate their victory. Rally Japan 2007. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / www.worldrallypics.com]
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Hiroki ARAI (JPN) - Glenn MACNEALL (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5, Tommi Mäkinen Racing
12.02.2017 - Alexey LUKYANUK (RUS) - Alexey ARNAUTOV (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Emil BERGKVIST (SWE) - Joakim SJÖBERG (SWE) Citroën DS3 R5
12.02.2017 - Emil BERGKVIST (SWE)  Citroën DS3 R5
12.02.2017 - Jarosław KOLTUN (POL) - Ireneusz PLESKOT (POL) Ford Fiesta R5, C‐Rally
12.02.2017 - Eyvind BRYNILDSEN (NOR) - Anders FREDRIKSSON (SWE) Ford Fiesta R5 Adapta Motorsport AS
12.02.2017 - Podium WRC 2, 1st place Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport, 2nd place Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team

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