15 June 2008
Turkey - day 3: Tactical win for Hirvonen.
Latvala meanwhile took the runners-up spot and while he tried to beat Hirvonen in the end he had to settle for 'silver'. Jari still enjoyed a very strong event though, especially as this was only his second outing on the Kemer-based round.
Like Mikko he notched up four stage wins, ending the event on a high by setting the pace in the final test. He now moves up to third in the drivers' championship, 3 points ahead of Chris Atkinson and 22 points off Loeb.
The BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT also extends its lead over Citroen in the manufacturers', following Hirvonen and Latvala's one-two finish - the first time this year the M-Sport squad has managed to lock out the top two places - taking the gap up from two points to nine.
"I came here wanting a top three finish so I'm pleased I was able to fight for victory," said Jari. "I lacked experience of these roads but that wasn't as big a disadvantage as I thought. We played good tactics and it was a big risk, but a good decision. I've learned to keep my driving tidy. I was kind on my tyres for the first half of the final stage and that paid off. This has given a major boost to my confidence."
Loeb for his part was third at the finish and while not happy to have to play the 'road sweeper', he conceded at the end of Friday's leg that had he been in the same position as the Fords, he would have done the same.
Despite being disadvantaged by his road position, Seb still set some very good times though and he was the only driver to win five tests - albeit two coming on the short Antalya super specials.
"I cannot say I'm happy about finishing third and I'm no more pleased to have conceded the lead in the Drivers' Championship. For three days we have tried everything. We often exceeded our limits, using every bit of the car's potential and that of the Pirelli tyres," said Seb.
"Except maybe for New Zealand, we should no longer have to worry about the problem of 'road-sweeping' for any of the seven rallies that remain, and that can only be a good thing."
Further down the order Dani Sordo was fourth, overhauling the Stobart Ford Focus of Henning Solberg on the final day. Dani slipped back from fifth to eighth on Friday with a left rear puncture, but despite picking up another one on day two, he hauled himself back up to take 5 points.
"I am very happy that we did it," said the Citroen #2. "At the end of this difficult weekend, this result is good for me. Our C4 was competitive and we put in some good stage performances. I forced myself to take care of my tyres and I think we made further progress in driving on the loose."
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