BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen has admitted that he will have to find some more speed on the next round in Argentina if he is to keep his championship hopes alive.

Mikko was 'annoyed' with himself at the end of the first day after he was comprehensively outperformed by his younger team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. He consequently finished the opening leg around a minute off the battle for the rally lead.

Furthermore while he was hampered by being first in the order and having to sweep the roads clean, things didn't get much better on day 2 either and a double puncture in SS12 cost him around two and a half minutes and dropped him behind Henning Solberg.

Although he regained that spot on the final day, when the Norwegian had his own difficulties in the final two stages, the Finn was still pretty frustrated with his weekend, even if P4 was enough to keep him top in the drivers' championship - 1 point up on Sebastien Loeb.

"I tried to catch Henning but when stage 18 was cancelled [due to the volume of spectators on day 3], I decided I didn't have enough kilometres left in which to do it. I was lucky he had a problem and I'm glad to finish fourth and take good points after a difficult weekend," Mikko stated.

"It just wasn't my rally unfortunately. Jari-Matti and Loeb were very fast and I couldn't reach their pace but I'll have to find that speed or say goodbye to the championship.

"I was unlucky with punctures but fourth is OK in the circumstances and hopefully this is the worst rally I'll have this year. Unfortunately I will be first on the road again on the next round in Argentina, but it does feel good to be still leading the championship."

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was content at the end of the event as Mikko's fourth and Latvala's third increased the Blue Oval's lead in the manufacturers' championship from ten points to twelve.

"After what we encountered, we've come away with a great result which increases our lead in the championship," Wilson Sr concluded. "And for Mikko to still lead the drivers' standings after his problems is more than we thought we would achieve on Friday night. I'm pleased we showed the speed to lead the rally and that's promising looking forward to another high altitude event in Argentina later this month."


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