2 August 2009
Home glory for Hirvonen on Rally Finland
"It has been a very good rally for me and a fantastic fight with Matti,” noted the Citroen Junior Team man. “In this rally you need confidence in your car and your pace-notes."
Of the rest Jari Ketomaa and Britain's Matthew Wilson completed the points' scorers followed by Khalid Al Qassimi and Juho Hanninen, who dominated the Group N class in his Red Bull Rally Team Skoda Fabia S2000. Munchi's Federico Villagra and Anton Alen rounded out the top twelve.
"We take tenth position. We had no problem the whole weekend so a big thanks to the team,” Hanninen said. “I don't know about my next WRC event but this one was really enjoyable."
In the Junior World Rally Championship category, Martin Prokop led from start-to-finish and took a convincing victory in his Citroen C2 S1600, winning 12 of the 23 stages. The victory was also enough to give him the 2009 J-WRC title, with one round in hand.
"What a relief! 2009 JWRC champion! We are very happy and with a result like this is just the best feeling,” said Prokop. “We have worked so hard and now I am at the top of the list - fantastic. Thank you to my excellent team."
'Wildcard' Kalle Pinomaki secured the runners-up spot, 55.5 seconds adrift, followed by Suzuki's Michal Kosciuszko and Aaron Burkart. Mark Wallenwein was fifth with Simone Bertolotti sixth and Han Weijs Jr - the only other runner to finish in the JWRC - seventh.
“Third in Juniors is not bad here. Martin has done a great job all season. He has made no mistakes all season which is why he is champion, so congratulations to him," Kosciuszko added.
As for retirements there were a number of casualties, including Conrad Rautenbach, who crashed out in the penultimate stage today. He escaped unhurt as did his co-driver, Daniel Barritt.
Rautenbach's Citroen Junior team-mate, Evgeny Novikov also failed to finish, going off the road on day 1 and day 2, whilst engine problems stopped Citroen privateer Petter Solberg prior to SS14. Like Novikov, Petter had re-joined on day 2 under the SupeRally after crashing on Friday.
Ferrari F1 star, Kimi Raikkonen was another of the high profile names on the DNF list. Raikkonen's run came to an end on Saturday, when he went off the road in the leg's final test. He had put in an impressive performance though, and was running third in his class and 15th overall on his WRC debut.
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