15 June 2008
Turkey - day 3: Tactical win for Hirvonen.
Henning was also pleased, even if he did lose out to Sordo. The Norwegian ended day 1 in second - after Hirvonen, Latvala and Galli slowed - but he wasn't as comfortable on days two and three after his mechanics had to fit a new gearbox.
"I'm very, very happy; fifth place here is great. It's been a tough rally and we have had to manage the tyres well for the whole time. The first day felt great and it was a good feeling to set a fastest time. Then we had to make some changes to the car and the feeling just wasn't as good as the first day," he explained. "But we kept the pace up and got into an exciting battle with Dani Sordo on the last day."
Further down the order Henning's brother Petter was sixth, 14.5 seconds further back in the new Impreza WRC2008. 'Hollywood' ran in the points throughout and while he never looked likely to repeat the rostrum result he managed in Greece two weeks ago, he still set some pretty good times - including eleven top-six efforts.
"This weekend has not been bad at all, no real problems," he reflected. "On lots of stages we've had fastest splits and been faster than anyone else which is very good. The car is very reliable, and it's been a difficult past two rallies but the engineers have learned a lot and have a very good strategy plan. The guys know exactly where to work on the car now so I think it will be no problem to find a lot more in this car."
Britain's Matthew Wilson took two points for seventh in the third Stobart Ford entry, even though he was suffering from a cold for much of the event and didn't feel 100 per cent, while Conrad Rautenbach was eighth in his privately entered Citroen C4 WRC.
Munchi's Ford duo Federico Villagra and Barry Clark completed the top ten, the latter getting the final manufacturers' point on his first 'proper' event in a World Rally Car. Barry opted to take it neat and tidy and was happy with his weekend, even if he did have a few scares in the final stage.
Of the other WRC drivers, Chris Atkinson was 13th, having re-joined under the SupeRally on Saturday. Atkinson went out on day 1 after damaging the suspension on his Impreza WRC2008 in SS6.
Toni Gardemeister and Per-Gunnar Andersson failed to finish in their SX4 WRCs, retiring early on day two with mechanical problems. Neither re-started on Sunday, so the Suzuki WRT had a premature end to the event.
Stobart Ford's Gigi Galli also finished earlier than planned, having to pull out before Sunday's action got underway due to exhaustion and dehydration. The Italian was advised not to continue by the team's doctor.
In the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship category Andreas Aigner came through to take a convincing win - his third in succession. Andreas beat Patrik Sandell by over a minute, after the Swede lost time late on Saturday with a driveshaft failure.
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