Mikko Hirvonen has finished day two of the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse in second place - and while he was disappointed not to be able to take the fight to Sebastien Loeb, he knows the result will keep his slim championship hopes alive.

Hirvonen, who began the second leg narrowly in front of his team-mate, Francois Duval, slipped to third initially, but he re-took P2 in SS8 and increased the margin to 5.6 seconds in the afternoon. He eventually ended the day with a 4.3 second cushion.

"This morning I thought that if everything went well, then I could keep ahead of Francois and that's how it turned out," the Finn reflected. "I don't think either of us was driving at 110 per cent this afternoon but nothing is certain so I'll drive hard tomorrow.

"The stages were tricky today and I slid around and missed some braking points on the slippery gravel sections. There was more gravel on the stages and the roads were more abrasive.

"Tomorrow's roads are quite similar. They are very bumpy in places so I will need to be careful. Second would be very important to maintain my challenge for the drivers' championship. I have to accept that I can't beat Sebastien Loeb here, so I would be happy with second."

Francois Duval meanwhile, no doubt aware that team orders would come into play anyway - as they did in Spain last weekend - has said that he won't try and fight for P2 on Sunday.

Indeed he added that there is little to be gained by them taking risks in an attempt to beat each other, especially as the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT needs as many points as possible to close the 27-point gap to Citroen in the manufacturers'.

"I want Ford to score as many points as possible and Mikko has the advantage over me here," Duval conceded. "Second would be important for him also in the drivers' championship, so I prefer not to take risks and stay on the road.

"I expected to be faster than him this morning but he's very quick on asphalt this year. I was happy to win the last stage. I softened the suspension settings at lunchtime but it didn't really work so I made some changes before the final stage and it paid off. Tomorrow's stages are difficult so I don't intend pushing hard and taking risks. Third would be a good result for me."



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