27 April 2008
Jordan - day 3: First win of year for Hirvonen.
"My fitness has played a key part and has helped a lot with my concentration and performance on the stages. This was a hard rally but this finish is now our best result so far this year."
Munchi's Ford WRT's Federico Villagra completed the top six, 40 seconds or so further back, while Latvala recovered from his problems in SS18 and took two points for seventh.
Of the rest Gigi Galli took the final drivers' point, having re-started under the SupeRally on day 2 after problems in SS6, while BP Ford Abu Dhabi 'third' driver Khalid Al-Qassimi had to settle for ninth.
While it was Al-Qassimi's best ever finish in the WRC, he was still disappointed, as he was running comfortably in seventh, until he lost around 8 minutes with two punctures in the final test, which dropped him out of the points.
Sebastien Loeb rounded out the top ten, having restarted under the SupeRally. The Frenchman took the final manufacturers' point, although that was little consolation, as he looked set for victory until that incident with Rautenbach.
"It really is an enormous shame [what happened on Saturday]: we were in a good position with regard to both championships, but this is only the fifth round of the season and such a lot that can still happen," he noted philosophically.
In the FIA Junior World Rally Championship category, Sebastien Ogier took the victory, just like he did on round 1 in Mexico.
Patrik Sandell had been leading but when the Swede crashed in SS17, Ogier made the most of it and in the end won by just over 5 minutes. He wouldn't have needed Sandell to have problems too, if he had not been slowed by a puncture on day 1. Indeed Ogier set the JWRC pace in 16 out of the 22 stages and further marked himself out as a real star in the making.
Shaun Gallagher took the runners-up spot, in another Citroen C2 S1600, while Renault's Gilles Schammel was third, followed by Florian Niegel and Stefano Albertini.
In terms of retirements a number of drivers' failed to make it to the finish, most noticeably Suzuki WRT duo Toni Gardemeister and Per-Gunnar Andersson, as well as Subaru's Petter Solberg and Urmo Aava.
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