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Turkey - day 2: Mikko capitalises on tactical ploy

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen made the most of Friday night's 'tactical manoeuvre' to re-take the lead on the Rally of Turkey this morning and then build a very solid lead.

Hirvonen had led for most of opening leg, until he eased off in the final stage to ensure he wouldn't have to sweep the roads on day two. That decision, while not entirely uncontroversial, left the Finn running fifth in the order on Saturday and with cleaner stages he exploited it from the off.

Indeed he set the pace in both stages on the first loop to haul himself into the lead, 2.9 seconds up on his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala.

Mikko then increased that cushion four-fold in the middle loop, before gaining more time in the final three stages. He finally finished the day 16 seconds up Latvala - and almost 35 seconds up on his chief championship rival, Citroen's Sebastien Loeb.

Despite that cushion though, Mikko conceded that he had hoped it would be bigger: "Thirty-four seconds over Loeb is good but 40sec would have been comfortable," he noted. "Both Jari-Matti and Loeb will be tough to beat tomorrow but I'm more worried about Jari-Matti.

"I have to realistic though. I came here to regain the championship lead and that's my main aim for tomorrow. That's more important to me than winning this rally. I'm first on the road tomorrow so all I can do is drive flat out and hope for the best."

Latvala meanwhile tried to keep up, but on the whole he was unable to match Hirvonen - although he did beat him in SS14 this afternoon, when he posted his third quickest time of the event.

"Tomorrow will have lots of hard driving, maximum concentration and plenty of effort to try to keep Loeb behind," said Jari. "I'm both a team-mate and competitor with Mikko and I would like to win this rally. I'm not here just to cruise but I must also remember that I mustn't put the car off the road.

"Mikko will be first in the start order so it won't be easy for him while Loeb will attack from behind and will be very fast. The long stage will be tough for me as I will only have Mikko's line to follow."



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