1 August 2009
Hirvonen lines up Rally Finland win
"It has really been a tough day, first being ill in the morning and then pushing to overtake Sordo. More of the same tomorrow, without the sickness I hope!" said Latvala, who has been trying to re-build his confidence after his Rally Poland SSS gaff.
Sordo for his part was able to match Latvala and stay right with him until the last three stages, when he was reminded about Citroen's battle with Ford in the manufacturers'.
"It was an okay day for us, but the team tell me to think of the Championship and preserve the car," Sordo confirmed.
Further down the order, Matti Rantanen is on course to take a very fine fifth place on his 'guest' outing with the Munchi's Ford squad. He had been comfortably in P5, but lost quite a bit of time in the final stage when he had a bit of a scare.
"Not such a great day, but I am lucky to be here as I was almost off the road in SS19,” Rantanen explained.
Sebastien Ogier ended up sixth and is now Rantanen's principal threat, only 17.5 seconds behind. Ogier had been battling with Mads Ostberg for P6, but that fight ended early when the Adapta man crashed his Subaru Impreza WRC in SS19.
Of the rest Jari Ketomaa and Matthew Wilson round out the provisional points' scorers, followed by Conrad Rautenbach and Khalid Al Qassimi. Federico Villagra is eleventh with Juho Hanninen 12th and set for glory in the Group N class.
In the Junior World Rally Championship, Martin Prokop still holds P1, as he has from the off. Prokop won four more stages today and lies 28.7 seconds up on 'wild card' runner Kalle Pinomaki ahead of Sunday's final leg.
Michal Kosciuszko is third in the JWRC, having got passed Aaron Burkart in the penultimate stage of the day.
As for retirements, in addition to Ostberg, Kimi Raikkonen also went out, the Finn crashing in exactly the same place. Earlier on Henning Solberg was sidelined too, suspension damage putting him out in SS12, whilst his brother Petter retired in service E due to engine problems. Petter had re-started under the SupeRally this morning along with Citroen Junior Team's Evgeny Novikov, who incidentally went off the road in SS14.
The action now concludes on Sunday and the final leg is a short one, with just four stages and 47.44 competitive kilometres on the bill.
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