Ford's Mikko Hirvonen admits he is hoping rain will stay away from the second leg of Rally Cyprus after ending day one of the event in third place.

Hirvonen ended the opening day of the mixed-surface event little more than a minute behind leader Sebastien Loeb and is 19 seconds behind second-placed Dani Sordo after the Citroen pair secured victory on all six stages.

With the opening day of the event being run on tarmac but using gravel tyres, the crews faced an extra challenge and Hirvonen admitted he had been too cautious during the morning as he lost more than 40 second to Loeb through the three tests.

However, when the stages were repeated during the afternoon, Hirvonen was closer to the pace and although outpaced by Loeb, the Finn minimised his losses to the Frenchman to less than 20 seconds and also remained close to Sordo in the fight for second.

With the Citroen pair ahead sweeping some gravel off the road during day two, Hirvonen will now hope to take advantage of his road position to close the gap to the drivers ahead, but he admitted that any advantage would be lost if the rain that affected the final stage of day one returned.

"It was a hard morning because the grip level changed all the time," he said. "Although the roads were dry, the surface was dusty and they were slippery and unpredictable and I wasn't totally confident. My tyres felt they were losing their edge on the last stage so I drove more cautiously, but actually they were fine at the finish. I just wasn't used to the feeling of gravel tyres on asphalt.

"My driving was much better [this afternoon]. I got used to the conditions and the tyres but it was harder to find a rhythm on such twisty roads than I thought it would be. Tomorrow's stages are very rocky in places so I'm glad there is only one pass over each test. I hope it doesn't rain tonight. Third in the start order tomorrow in the dry will give me an advantage over the two drivers ahead who will have to sweep the loose gravel clear.

"If it rains then the advantage will be lost."



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