SS14: Hirvonen rapid through Sunday’s opener

Loeb don’t want to put under pressure Ogier



27 March 2011 - 10:20
SS14: Hirvonen rapid through Sunday’s

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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