SS14: Hirvonen rapid through Sunday’s opener
Loeb don’t want to put under pressure Ogier
Mikko Hirvonen has claimed his first gravel stage victory on Vodafone Rally de Portugal as leader Sebastien Ogier admitted to backing off to preserve his overnight advantage.
Hirvonen was 18 seconds faster than Ogier through the Silves test to move ahead of Matthew Wilson into fourth overall.
“That was not too bad, the car is working well,” said Hirvonen. “I’m concentrating on fourth place now.”
Hirvonen’s Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest through the stage in his Fiesta. “The Citroen boys are taking it very steady,” said Latvala. “There was a lot of grip and I enjoyed the drive. I wasn’t taking any risks, just keeping a good rhythm.”
Out front, Sebastien Loeb has all but conceded victory to team-mate Ogier after admitting at the stage finish he didn’t want to put his compatriot under any pressure. “We decided not to push, I didn’t want to put him under any pressure,” said Loeb.
Ogier, who is preserving an overnight lead of 37.6s, said at the end of the stage: “There was no problem, just starting very carefully because there is no reason to take risks. It’s similar for everybody, no difference being first on the road.”
Matthew Wilson reported hitting a rock with his Fiesta’s front-left wheel but had no trouble completing the stage in fifth overall. Fellow M-Sport Stobart driver Henning Solberg said he was experiencing a recurrence of the powersteering problem that plagued him on day two of the rally.
Standings after SS14:
|01||S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA||Citroën DS3 WRC||3h12m01.3s|
|02||S. LOEB / D. ELENA||Citroën DS3 WRC||+39.4s|
|03||J. LATVALA / M. ANTTILA||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+3m58.9s|
|04||M. HIRVONEN / J. LEHTINEN||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+5m14.5s|
|05||M. WILSON / S. MARTIN||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+5m25.1s|
|06||H. SOLBERG / I. MINOR||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+8m39.9s|
|07||K. RAIKKONEN /K. LINDSTROM||Citroën DS3 WRC||+9m17.9s|
|08||F. VILLAGRA / J. PÉREZ COMPANC||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+9m34.5s|
|09||P. SOLBERG / C. PATTERSON||Citroën DS3 WRC||+11m13.4s|
|10||D. KUIPERS / F. MICLOTTE||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+13m47.3s|
|11||H. PADDON / J. KENNARD||Subaru Impreza STI||+15m00.4s|
|12||B. MAGALHAES / P. GRAVE||Peugeot 207 S2000||+18m13.7s|
|13||K. KRUUDA / M. JARVEOJA||Skoda Fabia S2000||+21m09.2s|
|14||B. GUERRA / B. ROZADA||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X||+22m11.7s|
|15||K. AL QASSIMI / M. ORR||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+23m30.9s|
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