Polish win puts Hirvonen top

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.

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.”

Related Pictures

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Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Craig Breen (IRE), Peugeot, FIA ERC [Credit: ERC PR]
Teemu Suninen (FIN), Toyota Motorsport [Credit: WRC.com]
RX: World Rallycross, UK talent competition [Credit: FIA World Rallycross media]
James Grint - Albatec Racing
Robin Larsson will campaign a privately-run Audi in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship
Rallye International du Valais, European Rally Championship [Credit: European Rally Championship]
Junior ERC: Chris Ingram, Peugeot UK [Credit: Chris Ingram Rally]
Tuthill Porsche, Circuit of Ireland Rally [Credit: Tuthill Porsche Media]
Volkswagen Motorsport, World Rallycross [Credit: FIA World Rallycross]
Jerome Grosset-Janin - Albatec Peugeot
Jerome Grosset-Janin - Albatec Peugeot
Petter Solberg, James May, Top Gear [Credit: FIA World Rallycross]
Ott Tanak at the finish of Rally Mexico, sporting swimming mask and snorkel. 2015. [Pic credit: M-Sport]
Simone Tempestini (ITA) Matteo Charciossi (ITA), Subaru Impreza

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Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

June 29, 2009 3:32 PM

It should be very interesting from here on in. If Jari Matti wants to repay Ford a little for his few lets say WHOOPSIES....... If Mikko could win Finland and Jari finish 2nd to him that would put Mikko 5 points ahead of Seb. In Oz where we know Seb wont be at his most potent coz its another new event, Mikko could just pip him for another 2 points to make it 7 That would allow Mikko to comfortably finish 3rd in Spain where Seb and Dani are realistically going to take the top 2 spots putting Mikko back to 3 points In Wales Mikko would just need to finish 2nd for Seb to be crowned Chempion. This plan should be achievable and Mikko will win the title by just 1 point.

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