Afternoon news from Polish Rally

Afternoon news from Polish Rally

27.06.2009: Rally leaders Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala said they had driven through Saturday's penultimate stage at the limit - and in Latvala's case over it - in an effort to keep the hard charging Dani Sordo behind.

SS12: Ford pair at full tilt


photo Ford

Rally leaders Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala said they had driven through Saturday's penultimate stage at the limit - and in Latvala's case over it - in an effort to keep the hard charging Dani Sordo behind.

The Ford pair maintained their own gap of 10 seconds, but pulled 5.6sec further ahead of their Citroen rival.

Completing the 32km stage as the fastest of the three, Hirvonen said he had nothing more to give. "That was good but it's not coming easy," he said. "I'm going as fast as I can. It’s definitely a fight all the way through. Maybe the other two weren't awake on the previous stage - that suited me pretty well."

Latvala was seven-tenths slower than his team-mate and with one stage remaining today is 22 seconds ahead of Sordo. "I have the feeling that I've been driving like a mad man," said Jari-Matti. "I can't get any faster, it was absolutely flat-out; a big push. Sordo is really making our lives hard."

Sordo didn't report any problems with his C4 WRC but was falling back behind the Fords. "It's close, I tried to go flat-out but it's really, really difficult," he said.

Petter Solberg put himself right back in the fight for fourth by going quicker than his brother and Sebastien Ogier. Petter remained sixth overall but less than five seconds separated the three drivers. "We put more cooling on the engine in service and some stiffer springs and I think that's made it better," said Petter. "There's a harder line on the road now, it's not so loose, and can feel where I'm gaining; it’s not so bad."

Sebastien Ogier will take a slim three-tenths advantage over Henning Solberg into the day's final stage. "We are not on the good rhythm this afternoon but we still have one more stage to go - we'll try to do a good job there," said Ogier.



SS11: Hirvonen pulls ahead


Rally leader Mikko Hirvonen reasserted his control over Rally Poland by setting the fastest time on the first test of the afternoon, the repeated Danowo.

The Finn completed the 11.88km test 6.3sec quicker than he had managed earlier today when it was run as SS8.

Hirvonen arrived at the finish with wet overalls after his drinking water system leaked. "We are sinking," he joked. "The stage went okay. Let's see what the boys have to say about that. I was absolutely flat-out."

Mikko's Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was next to complete, in a time seven seconds slower. Looking agitated at the finish control, Latvala said the stage hadn't gone smoothly. "It was a bit difficult in there, maybe I should have been pushing harder but I lost a bit of control in the ruts and backed off," he said. "Maybe I wasn't in the right rhythm. I'm not happy with that time but we have the two long stages to go."

Dani Sordo was next through and quicker that Latvala by one-tenth. Sordo said: "Mikko was really fast. The road is giving us a rougher ride than earlier - my car is sliding all the time."

The battle for fourth between Sebastien Ogier and Henning Solberg got tighter after Ogier had a problematic stage. "That wasn't great," said Ogier. "We stalled twice in two hairpins and lost a lot of time." Heading to SS12 the gap between them was 2.2 seconds.

Petter Solberg, in sixth, maintained a 6.5 second gap to his brother ahead and said he was wringing everything he could out of his Xsara. "The car is working well, I can't blame anything there," he said. "I'm attacking very, very hard and taking massive risks to try and overtake Henning."

Ranked 20th in the overall standings, Sebastien Loeb set the second fastest time in his C4 WRC. "I tried to push there and thought I had a good run but Mikko is going incredibly fast," he said.

Despite his lowly position on the leaderboard, Loeb is on course to collect the last manufacturers' championship point for Citroen.



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27.06.2009 / MaP

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