BP Ford Abu Dhabi number one driver Mikko Hirvonen took the victory on the 66th Rally Poland this weekend - and as a result he now moves ahead of Sebastien Loeb to the top of the drivers' standings.

Hirvonen, who came into the eighth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship trailing the five-time world champion by seven points, took the lead in the second stage on Friday.

He then saw his advantage at the top of the leader-board increase, when Seb made a crucial mistake and went off the road in the next test, hitting a tree stump and damaging the suspension on his Citroen C4 WRC. The Frenchman was unable to continue and retired from the leg.

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That handed Mikko a great chance to close the gap - and take the lead in the race for the drivers' crown, and he grabbed it with both hands.

On Friday afternoon, he initially came under a bit of pressure from his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, before a flier of a time in SS6 allowed him to pull out a bit of a cushion. He subsequently finished the first day 8.9 seconds in front.

On Saturday the fight continued and following SS8, SS9 and SS10, Hirvonen saw his advantage slashed to just 3 seconds. However on the repeat runs through he took back control and in the first test beat his closest rivals by over 6 seconds.

Hirvonen then consolidated his position in SS12 and SS13, before heading into the overnight halt 12 seconds in front.

The final day ended up being a bit of a formality for the Finn and he paced himself through the final five stages to take the victory, his second in a row.

He will now go to his home event in Finland at the end of next month, following the WRC's four-week summer break, with a one-point lead over Loeb in the drivers' standings.

"It is unbelievable to win the event. What a fantastic, exciting rally," said Hirvonen. "I have the lead now in the championship and the next event is at home in Finland."

Hirvonen and Ford's triumph though was marred by a shock accident in the final test, when Jari-Matti Latvala threw away second place.

Jari-Matti had been comfortably on course to take silver after playing the perfect support role and backing up his team-mate all the way. However in the repeat run through the short 2.5 kilometre Mikolajki super special, he hit a barrel and collided with the armco. The incident damaged the suspension on his Focus and while he tried to push his car to the finish it was to no avail.

It was a major blow for the 'Blue Oval', which went from potentially picking up another maximum 18-point haul and closing the gap to Citroen in the manufacturers', to slipping further behind. Citroen now leads by 17-points.

Dani Sordo thus somewhat surprisingly found himself bumped up to P2. The Spaniard having been left to fly the flag pretty much solo for the Citroen Total WRT after Loeb's gaff on the opening day.

Sordo applied the pressure on the first loop on Saturday and kept Mikko and Jari-Matti honest. However he was unable to do the same on the repeat run on day 2 and was also no match for the Ford's on Sunday.

Henning Solberg was 'best of the rest' and took the final podium position, 55.4 seconds further back and 20 seconds or so up on his brother, Petter.

The Solberg's had enjoyed a rally long battle and Sebastien Ogier was also involved in the scrap for fourth. Unfortunately for the Frenchman though he was forced out in SS16 with engine problems. He had been over 15 seconds in front in his C4.

"Wow, what an end to the rally, it's very sad for Ford but the podium is fantastic for me," stated Henning. "We have come a long way since Thursday when the feeling after Shakedown wasn't very good and today the car has been much better.

"I've been driving as fast as I can on this rally and really been pushing hard in the battle with Petter [and Ogier]; the fastest stage times we had today prove just that.

"We have had a learning weekend and this rally has some fantastic stages but it's also been very difficult. I've got the result I wanted, and that helps me maintain my position as the best non-factory driver in the championship."

Britain's Matthew Wilson rounded out the top five and while he was nowhere near the fight for P4 he still put in another solid drive. Indeed the Englishman set top-ten times in every single stage and was happy with the progress he made.

"One of the biggest challenges has been adjusting my brain to the speed of the stages here and trying to maintain the rhythm when the type of road changes," he admitted. "It's been really good preparation for Finland from that respect and it will be a help to have had three days driving at these speeds. We have taken a lot from this weekend and I need to just get my notes more consistent to be able to push harder."

Three-time Rally Poland winner and local hero, Krzysztof Holowczyc followed Wilson home in sixth in the 'third' Stobart Ford entry. Holowczyc gradually up his pace as the event wore on and he got use to his Focus RS WRC, and in the end he finished less than 15 seconds further back.

"It's been a fantastic rally and I'm very happy with the result," said Holowczyc. "I have become the first Polish driver to score a drivers' point and to do it here on my home rally is a very special feeling; we've also scored our best WRC finish ever which was a big surprise at the end."

Further down the order Sebastien Loeb was seventh. Seb re-started under the SupeRally on Saturday after crashing out in SS4. He then hauled himself back up to take two drivers' points and three manufacturers' points for Citroen. Admittedly though, he had a helping hand on the last day, with Citroen Junior Team men, Conrad Rautenbach and Evgeny Novikov both slowing to allow the Frenchman passed.

Rautenbach and Novikov were eighth and ninth respectively - and the latter, like Loeb took advantage of the SupeRally after a mistake in SS4. Group N winner, Michal Bebenek rounded the top-ten in his Mitsubishi.

There were a number of retirements, and in addition to Loeb and Novikov, who both rejoined under the SupeRally, the event also claimed the scalps of Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg.

Ogier as already mentioned went out on the final day, along with Mads Ostberg, while Mikkelsen had engine problems and retired following SS12. Mikkelsen had been running well in his privately entered Skoda Fabia WRC and was in the top five.

In the Junior World Rally Championship, Kevin Abbring finally came through to secure the win after a ding-dong battle with the Suzuki Swift S1600 of Michal Kosciuszko.

Kosciuszko had gone back in front following SS14 this morning and was leading by over a minute when he crashed out in SS16. Abbring thus re-took the position, with Martin Prokop coming in second and Yoann Bonato third.

Han Weijs was fourth followed by Simone Bertolotti and 'wild card' Radoslaw Typa. Luca Griotti was the final J-WRC runner classified in seventh.

The World Rally Championship now takes a four-week break before resuming at the end of next month with the Neste Oil Rally Finland.