Latvala will accept position switch
" Mikko will get much better chances for the championship"
Jari-Matti Latvala has told Wrc.com that he would be prepared to cede position to his Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in order to boost his fellow Finn’s chances of winning the World Rally Championship title.
Hirvonen completed Sunday morning’s opening loop of three stages in third position, 1m22.4s behind Latvala and 1m53.5s adrift of leader Sebastien Loeb. By dropping time, Latvala will gift Hirvonen three extra drivers’ championship points, which could prove crucial in the battle for WRC glory.
“I would expect we will change with Mikko at some point and Mikko will climb up to second and I will be third,” said Latvala, who has excelled in Spain with a plethora of stage wins. “Because Mikko will get much better chances for the championship in Wales [I am prepared to do that]. It’s never a nice feeling I can tell you but that’s something that needs to be done and that’s it. I just need to accept it.”
If Hirvonen does claim second place then he would trail Citroen driver Loeb by seven points. However, if he can win the event-closing Power Stage and bag three bonus points with Loeb outside of the top three fastest times then the gap would be four points heading to the season finale in Great Britain next month.
“The Power Stage will be very crucial for sure and I need to take some points and possibly win it,” said Hirvonen. “It won’t be easy but based on what I learned on the first run through I have a chance now because I know how to drive it and drive this car. I have to be very aggressive and not smooth like I used to drive on Tarmac.”
Asked what orders would be given to its drivers, Ford’s European motorsport head Gerard Quinn said: “It’s a long way to go yet. There are two stages to go and the Power Stage will be a difficult decision as well in terms of what we’ve got to do. For Mikko to win the drivers’ championship points mean prizes and we’ve got to do everything we can within the regulations to make sure he wins the drivers’ championship.”
As well as the overall WRC drivers’ title, the Super 2000 World Rally Championship crown is up for grabs in Spain. Juho Hanninen, who tops the event classification after 15 stages following Nasser Al-Attiyah’s brake problems this morning, will become champion providing he can stay out of trouble this afternoon.
In the Production Car World Rally Championship, Patrik Flodin heads Michal Kosciuszko by 10.5s although the title was settled on Rally Australia last month when Hayden Paddon claimed his fourth win of the season.
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