Mikko Hirvonen admits he will taking no risks on the final day of Rally Monte Carlo after the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team ended the penultimate leg of the event in second place - albeit well down on leader Sebastien Loeb.

The Finn went into the leg in third place behind Loeb and the second Citroen of Dani Sordo and was eager to try and close down a gap of just under 30 seconds to the Spaniard ahead. Sordo extended his advantage through the opening two stages of the morning but was then forced to retire when he suffered an engine problem on SS11.

That retirement promoted Hirvonen up into second place, but with Loeb more than two minutes ahead and third-placed Chris Atkinson nearly a minute behind, he said he wouldn't be taking any risks on the final leg.

"When I woke up this morning I was hoping that I could take second, but I didn't think it would happen like that," he said. "Dani's retirement really helped me and I want to keep this position now because the two extra points for second would be good. I hoped to be closer to Loeb's pace but that wasn't possible here. I was happy with Pirelli's tyres, they worked well in the cold, dry conditions.

"There are still four more stages to come tomorrow so I will try to keep the car on the road and take no risks because I have a good lead over Atkinson in third. I don't have huge experience of tomorrow's stages and I can expect anything on the Col de Turini. There is usually snow, ice or fog at the top and it is dry then black ice will be a concern, so it will be a tricky day."

For team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala however, the leg ended in disappointment when he was forced to retire after the opening stage of the afternoon.

After a difficult two days that saw him start the leg down in ninth place, Latvala lost further time to the cars ahead when he suffered a hydraulic problem on the opening stage, but it was a stone that proved to be his undoing when contact with one on SS12 damaged his car and forced him to retire from the leg.

"I made some small changes to the differential set-up at the midday service and the stage started well," he said. "I felt confident with the car and my split times were good. About halfway through on a narrow road I came to a left hand corner and tried to follow the line of the cars ahead.

"I must have taken a slightly tighter line because I hit a concrete stone which broke the suspension. I drove on for another 500m until I found somewhere wide enough to stop."


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