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Sardinia – day 2: Latvala keeps lead as Hirvonen draws closer

The fight for honours on Rally d'Italia Sardinia looks set to be an all-Ford affair heading into the final day after Jari-Matti Latvala successfully held his lead through Saturday's six stages in the Meditteranean.

The young Finn went into the day leading team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by just under 40 seconds, but faced the prospect of sweeping the road for the cars behind.

However, Latvala proved more than capable of fighting from the front to remain in the lead, although his advantage over Hirvonen now lies at less than ten second after his countryman closed in on the repeat run through the three stages that made up the day's action.

Hirvonen had looked set to battle for position throughout the day with championship leader Sebastien Loeb, with a penalty for starting stage nine a minute late being the only thing preventing the Frenchman from moving into second place during the morning.

However, on the second stage of the afternoon, Loeb's fortunes took a turn for the worse when he had to stop and change a puncture on stage eleven and dropped just over a minute. As a result, the Frenchman has now slipped to fourth place, but is expected to take third from Petter Solberg during the final day – with the Norwegian just 2.2 seconds ahead at the wheel of his Citroen Xsara.

Loeb wasn't the only driver to run into problems on stage eleven, with the second run through Fiorentini mixing up the order further doing the points scoring positions.

Going into the stage, Dani Sordo had held the position but his Citroen C4 developed turbo issues which saw him lose over four minutes. Further time would be lost on the final stage of the day to leave the Spaniard well off the pace down in eighth.

Henning Solberg dropped out on stage eleven after suffering broken suspension, while Conrad Rautenbach was also forced out after suffering a damper failure on his Citroen Junior Team C4. That came a stage after Sebastien Ogier – running under SupeRally – retired with a similar problem.

At the end of the day, young Russian Evgeny Novikov in the lone remaining Junior Team entry holds a lonely fifth place after fellow young gun Mads Ostberg was forced to retire from the leg towards the end of the final stage. Ostberg hadn't enjoyed the easiest of days at the wheel of his Adapta Subaru after suspension problems during the morning loop.



Related Pictures

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Jari-Matti Latvala (fin) Mikka Anttila (fin) Ford Focus RS Wrc BP Ford Abudhabi WRT
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Pontus Tidemand (SWE) Emile Axelsson (SWE), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
StephaneLefebvre (FRA) Thomas Dubois (FRA), Citroen DS3 R3, WRC3 winners
StephaneLefebvre (FRA) Thomas Dubois (FRA), Citroen DS3 R3, WRC3 winners
Simone Tempestini (ROM) Dorian Pulpea (ROM), Citroen Ds3 R3
Bernardo Sousa, Hugo Magalhaes, (Ford Fiesta RRC, #43)
Bernardo Sousa, Hugo Magalhaes, (Ford Fiesta RRC, #43)
Yurii Protasov , Pavlo Cheperin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Yurii Protasov , Pavlo Cheperin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Yurii Protasov , Pavlo Cheperin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Yurii Protasov , Pavlo Cheperin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Yurii Protasov , Pavlo Cheperin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)

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Twin Cam Sam - Unregistered

May 24, 2009 9:49 AM

Just reading this Sunday morning after SS15, Arzachena. Latvala 31s ahead of Hirvonen, but some talk of team orders to switch their positions and give Hirvonen the win. Would be an absolute injustice. Latvala deserves the win, he has driven well (and untactically !) all weekend. On my favourite subject, Matt's fans will be excited to see he's up one place from his customary 7th place, in a fantastic 6th ! - a full 6m 55s behind Latvala in 1st in the same car, with 2 stages still to go, where he will doubtless lose another 30s. Forget the famous 5 year plan, son. We know enough after 4 years. Anyone other than Malc's son would have been long gone.



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