Home glory for Hirvonen on Rally Finland

The Frenchman blamed the puncture on SS15 for his failure to win, but interestingly the Citroen man was unable to beat Hirvonen in all but one of Saturday's stages, namely the final one, the 29.29 kilometre Vaarinmaja test.

"It had been one hell of a battle with Mikko, but he was really good and fast,” Loeb reflected. “When I had my puncture I knew it was over. But we have scored eight championship points so that is good for us."

Jari-Matti Latvala was next up and took a confidence boosting third, despite suffering with an upset stomach on Saturday.

After his late gaff last time out in Poland it was critical for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi #2 to get a solid result and having overhauled Dani Sordo for P3 in SS16, he never looked back. Indeed he set six fastest stage times in total and was more than 15 seconds ahead of the Spaniard at the finish.

“My god what a rally!” said Latvala, “To finish third here is absolutely fantastic, really great. It has been the hardest result to get with me being sick and then having to be fighting so hard with Dani, who has had his best Rally Finland. I am really very happy."

Sordo for his part was able to match Latvala and was right with him until the final loop on Saturday when he was reminded about the importance of finishing. As a result he eased off to ensure he took P4 and that meant Citroen's manufacturers' lead was cut by only three points.

"Fourth overall is very good but Jari-Matti was better in the end,” Sordo noted. “I am very happy with the car and the performance though. I know I can go faster but that would have meant taking risks. So for me to finish here really helps us in the manufacturers' championship."

Further down the order, Matti Rantanen held on to secure fifth on his 'guest' outing with the Munchi's Ford squad. Having impressed last year in Finland, he was again right on the pace and ran in the points' pretty much throughout.

Furthermore while he did come under pressure on the final day, he managed to narrowly hold off a late challenge from Sebastien Ogier, who was just 0.3 seconds behind after the final test.

“We have held onto our fifth overall by 0.3 of a second. Unbelievable! What a fantastic fight! I am really happy,” Rantanen said. “I would like to drive some more WRC events now but it depends on teams and sponsors."

Ogier was also pretty pleased, and as this was his first outing in Finland in a WRC car - and only his second run here in total - sixth was more than respectable for the 2008 Junior World Rally champion.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
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Grant - Unregistered

August 02, 2009 7:39 PM

Come on guys - this Matt Wilson bashing is getting very boring and repetitive. Change the record for gods sake! Focus on what a great event Rally Finland was, with a top battle between Hirvonen and Loeb for the win (and an equally good fight for third and fifth for that matter too...)

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