SS14: Hirvonen quickest

"I finally realised how to drive with this set-up"



23 October 2011 - 09:17
SS14: Hirvonen quickest

Mikko Hirvonen proved he’s not going to give up on his dream of winning his first world title without a fight after setting his first fastest stage time on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

In a remarkable transformation of form following his lacklustre showing on Saturday, Hirvonen was 4.0s faster than world championship rival Sebastien Loeb through Sunday’s second test. Although his performance won’t impact on the overall classification, it’s proof that the factory Ford driver has what it takes to run at the front.

“It was difficult yesterday but I finally realised how to drive with this set-up,” said Hirvonen. “I’m glad I found it finally.”

Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala once again underlined his emergence on asphalt with another strong stage time in his Fiesta RS WRC. He is now 29.4s behind leader Loeb with four stages left to run.

“It was a good stage but we lost a little towards the end when it was a bit more technical,” said Latvala.

Loeb, who like Latvala is carrying two spare soft compound tyres to counter the threat of rain, said: “There was some [damp] in the first part of the stage so I didn’t want to take any risks. It’s okay.”

Spaniard Dani Sordo lost almost 30 seconds when he picked up a rear-left puncture on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. It means his margin over fifth-placed Sebastien Ogier, who was second fastest in his Citroen, is now down to 38.3s.

Standings after SS14:

01 S. LOEB / D. ELENA Citroën DS3 WRC 3h33m14.3s
02 J. LATVALA / M. ANTTILA Ford Fiesta RS WRC +29.4s
03 M. HIRVONEN / J. LEHTINEN Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m50.3s
05 S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA Citroën DS3 WRC +3m38.6s
06 K. MEEKE / P. NAGLE MINI WRC +4m40.6s
07 M. ØSTBERG / J. ANDERSSON Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5m30.2s
08 H. SOLBERG / I. MINOR Ford Fiesta RS WRC +8m27.8s
09 E. NOVIKOV / D. GIRAUDET Citroën DS3 WRC +8m50.9s
10 M. WILSON / S. MARTIN Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m03.2s
11 D. KUIPERS / F. MICLOTTE Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m16.7s
12 J. HÄNNINEN / M. MARKKULA SKODA Fabia S2000 +12m07.8s
13 N. AL-ATTIYAH / G. BERNACCHINI FORD Fiesta S2000 +12m15.3s
14 K. AL QASSIMI / M. ORR Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12m54.8s
15 M. PROKOP / J. TOMÁNEK FORD Fiesta S2000 +12m57.0s


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