SS2: Hirvonen shines, Solberg slows

Citroen star leads as puncture delays Ford pilot


By Franck Drui

9 March 2012 - 16:10
SS2: Hirvonen shines, Solberg (...)

Mikko Hirvonen has snatched first place on Rally Guanajuato Mexico with a storming drive through Friday’s first test. And the Citroen-driving Finn said he could have been faster had he not backed off on the paved section nearing the end of the stage.

“I slowed down a lot in the end because I was a little worried about tyres,” said Hirvonen, who has elected to carry one spare tyre for the morning loop of stages. “I saw on the splits I was quite well ahead so it was okay.”

While Hirvonen celebrated a strong start to Friday’s stages there was despair for overnight leader Petter Solberg who has dropped almost one minute after picking up a left-rear puncture four kilometres into the run. The Ford driver then lost more ground when he suffered a spin in his desperation to limit the time deficit. Fortunately for the Norwegian he decided to load two spare tyres in his Fiesta before leaving first service.

Jari-Matti Latvala, who was 0.8s slower than Hirvonen through the stage, has moved into second overall in his factory Fiesta, 1.0s behind his countryman Hirvonen. “I felt quite comfortable but I was a bit afraid of the concrete sections,” he said.

Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb was 5.4s slower than Latvala in third position. The eight-time world champion, said: “I had a good drive but it was not a perfect stage. I don’t know why.”

Thierry Neuville impressed with the fourth fastest time for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team. “I was a little out of line in some places but nothing bad,” said the young Belgian. “I am happy with my time and I hope it will continue like this.”

Adapta World Rally Team’s Mads Ostberg said he was too cautious on the paved section of the stage on his way to the fifth fastest time. Ott Tanak was sixth quickest in his M-Sport Fiesta.


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