Mikko Hirvonen wint de
Rally in zijn thuisland en behaald tevens zijn 3e overwinning dit jaar!
Hirvonen jumps for joy
after netting dream victory in Finland,
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World
Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen fulfilled a childhood dream by winning
Rally Finland in front of his home town fans in Jyväskylä today.
Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen won the legendary rally by 25.1sec
in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to extend their lead in the FIA
World Rally Championship to three points with three rounds remaining. It
was Hirvonen's third straight rally win and Ford's fourth consecutive
victory of the 2009 season.
Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila joined their fellow
Finns on the podium by claiming third in their Focus RS WRC. Latvala
fought off a severe stomach upset yesterday to claim his maiden podium
on his home rally. The results enabled Ford to close the gap on the
leaders in the manufacturers' world title fight to 14 points, and ended
a perfect week in which Ford announced it would extend its commitment to
WRC for a further two years into 2010 and 2011.
Rally Finland, round nine in the 12-event championship, is the fastest
rally in the series. Famous for its awesome roller-coaster jumps,
Latvala topped the speed chart by winning the penultimate special stage
at a remarkable average of 131.56kph. Few of the 23 gravel speed tests
covering 345.15km fell below a 120kph average and even when heavy rain
fell yesterday morning during the second leg, speeds remained high as
the rock hard road surface softened to provide even better grip.
Hirvonen, who celebrated his 29th birthday during the first leg on
Friday, added his name to the illustrious list of drivers who have
mastered the sport's truest test of precision driving and bravery by
leading for all but the first couple of kilometres. He steadily pulled
away from closest rival Sébastien Loeb and when the Frenchman damaged a
tyre yesterday afternoon, Hirvonen was able to measure his pace, reduce
the risks and take an emotional victory in front of his family and
"I've watched this rally since I was a kid and now I have won here
myself and joined so many of the sport's legends who have won here. It's
such a fantastic sensation to win my home rally that I can't put my
feelings into words. It has been such a great weekend for the team that
there will be big celebrations tonight. I felt in control throughout the
rally. It was a great battle with Loeb and when he had a problem, I
could afford to take it a little bit easier," said Hirvonen.
Latvala held fourth for most of the opening leg but his chances of
improving looked slim when a stomach upset left him drained of energy
yesterday morning and unable to drive at full speed. However, the
24-year-old quickly recovered and as his health improved, so did his
stage times. He received the ideal tonic by climbing into third during
the afternoon and maintained a fast but cautious pace for the rest of
the rally to secure a podium place by 16.2sec.
"It's one of the highlights of my career to finish on the podium on my
home rally," he said. "After my mistake on the final stage in Poland
last month, I was under the biggest pressure of my life here and it took
time to regain my rhythm and confidence. Then I fell ill, but overtaking
Dani Sordo to move into third was a turning point and my times became
better and better. I feel I have grown up mentally since Poland and my
role for the rest of the season is to support Mikko's drivers' title
challenge in the way I did here."
Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished ninth in the
team's other Focus RS WRC. "Five of the top 10 finishers were Finns so
to take ninth is a credit to the team," said Al Qassimi.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson described his 'dream
weekend'. "Both Mikko and Jari-Matti delivered a perfect job for the
team. Without question, it was Mikko's best drive. Winning Rally Finland
is a turning point in his career, but I never doubted he would take
victory here one day. He has increased his lead in the drivers'
standings and the destination of the title could go down to the final
round. Jari-Matti drove superbly, especially given the pressure he was
under," he said.
Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe's senior manager for motorsport said: "Victory
in the country that is regarded as the spiritual home of rallying is a
tremendous achievement. Four consecutive wins in conditions ranging from
the blisteringly fast roads in Finland to the rock-strewn tracks and
searing heat in Greece demands a blend of strength, speed and
reliability from both man and machine and I look forward to us
challenging in Australia next month."
News from other Ford teams
Matti Rantanen and Mikko Lukka finished fifth on their debut for the
Munchi's team, beating Sébastien Ogier by just 0.3sec, with team-mates
Federico Villagra and Jorge Perez Companc in 11th. Stobart VK M-Sport
pairing Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin claimed their first point in
Finland by taking eighth in a Focus RS WRC. Henning Solberg and Cato
Menkerud finished 30th after restarting under SupeRally rules following
yesterday's retirement with suspension and driveshaft damage.
Rally Australia returns to the series for the first time since 2006 next
month. The new-look rally has crossed the country to the east coast and
is based in Kingscliff, New South Wales on 3 - 6 September.
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 50min 40.9sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 51min 06.0sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 51min 30.8sec
4. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 51min 47.0sec
5. M Rantanen/M Lukka FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 54min 59.1sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 2hr 54min 59.4sec
7. J Ketomaa/M Stenberg FIN Subaru Impreza 2hr 55min 48.4sec
8. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 57min 14.5sec
9. K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 3hr 03min 38.2sec
10 J Hänninen/M Markkula FIN Skoda Fabia 3hr 04min 54.6sec
1. M Hirvonen 68pts
2. S Loeb 65pts
3. D Sordo 44pts
4. J-M Latvala 31pts
5. H Solberg 27pts
6. P Solberg 25pts
1. Citroen Total 119pts
2. BP Ford Abu Dhabi 105pts
3. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford 64pts
4. Citroen Junior 33pts
5. Munchi's Ford 20pts
Bron | M-Sport
Uitslag na dag 2:
Hirvonen's six of the
best stretches Ford's Rally Finland lead
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo
Lehtinen strengthened their grip on the lead of Rally Finland during
today's second leg. The Finns won six of the nine speed tests in their
Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to stretch their advantage to 32.0sec with
just one day remaining of this ninth round of the FIA World Rally
Championship. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila climbed
to third, despite a stomach upset which left Latvala drained of energy.
This second day was one of the longest and most demanding of the season.
Drivers spent more than 14 hours behind the wheel and the 166.87km of
special stages represented almost half the rally's competitive distance.
Blending some of the sport's most famous roads with brand new tests, the
route included narrow and tight sections with the traditional big, wide,
roller-coaster roads which make this rally one of the sport's classic
Heavy rain early this morning softened the road surface and provided
excellent grip for Hirvonen and Latvala from their Pirelli Scorpion
tyres. Conditions changed rapidly as the clouds cleared to leave a warm
and sunny afternoon and the mud and standing water of the morning
Hirvonen won all three early morning stages to extend his overnight lead
from 3.3sec to 10.9sec. He also claimed the next two tests, more than
doubling his lead to 28.0sec as closest rival Sébastien Loeb hit a pot
hole and damaged the front right tyre. With the pressure reduced,
Hirvonen adopted a more cautious pace during the final group of stages,
but added another stage win to his tally.
"I thought, and hoped, it would rain this morning. It made the roads
softer and improved the grip so it wasn't as slippery as yesterday.
Loeb's puncture took the pressure off a little, but the lead wasn't
enough for me to relax, especially with the longest stage of the rally
as the day's final test. I've been pushing hard but always felt under
control. I felt relaxed before the rally started and that has helped me
to handle the pressure during the event.
"I've been really pleased with the set-up of the car. It's handled
superbly and I felt so confident this morning on the wet roads with
great grip. We have a good lead so there's no need to go flat out
tomorrow if I don't feel comfortable, I don't have to take risks," added
29-year-old Hirvonen, who lives in the rally base of Jyväskylä and has
received superb support during the day from his home town fans.
Latvala struggled to maintain the required pace this morning because of
his illness. His health improved gradually as the day went on, a win in
the middle group of tests providing the perfect medicine. He moved into
third, ahead of Dani Sordo, on the final stage of that loop and two more
victories this afternoon enabled the 24-year-old Finn to open a 10.5sec
lead over the Spaniard. It also ensured that Hirvonen and Latvala won
all nine stages today between them.
"It was the most difficult day of my WRC career," explained Latvala. "I
started feeling ill about an hour before I got up. It felt like a fever
and I didn't eat anything this morning so I was quite weak. It was hard
driving like that and I felt so sick that my only goal was not to lose
too much time. I saw the doctor in service after the first three stages
and he gave me some medicine. I quickly started to feel better and
improved with every stage.
"I would be so happy if I could finish on the podium tomorrow. For the
last three years I have wanted too much from this rally and I know what
I did wrong. It's vital to complete all the stages to gain the
experience that allows you to challenge for victory here, and Mikko is
showing the benefits of having done that. Tomorrow I need to find a good
balance. Sordo will attack so I have to be prepared, but not take risks,"
Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr are 10th in the team's
other Focus RS WRC, despite a close escape on the final stage when their
car bounced out of a ditch. "I am pleased with how I performed yesterday
and have gained the extra confidence to push harder during today’s
stages. Our results during day one mean I can push myself to lift my
pace. So far we have been faster in the stages than we were last year,
and I definitely have more to give," said Al Qassimi.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson described the
performances of Hirvonen and Latvala as 'superb'. "They drove
faultlessly at the desired pace to give the team the perfect position
going into the final day tomorrow," he said.
News from other Ford teams
Munchi's Ford drivers Matti Rantanen and Mikko Lukka retained fifth
after a troublefree day in their Focus RS WRC, while team-mates Federico
Villagra and Jorge Perez Companc climbed to 11th. Stobart VK M-Sport
Ford's Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin moved up to eighth, despite
dropping 15sec this morning when they pulled over to restart their Focus
RS WRC after the ignition switch was knocked off on landing over a big
jump. Team-mates Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud moved ahead of
Rantanen into fifth on the opening stage but on the next test Solberg
damaged the front suspension at a hairpin bend, resulting in the
driveshaft coming loose and leaving the car with no drive. He retired
but will restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules.
The final day is a short, sharp affair. After leaving Jyväskylä at
06.50, drivers tackle four stages to the east, with no opportunity for
service before the finish in the town at 13.26, after 47.44km of driving.
Leaderboard after Day 2
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 27min 35.8sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 28min 07.8sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 28min 44.1sec
4. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 28min 54.6sec
5. M Rantanen/M Lukka FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 31min 46.4sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 2hr 32min 03.9sec
7. J Ketomaa/M Stenberg FIN Subaru Impreza 2hr 32min 34.9sec
8. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 33min 37.5sec
9. C Rautenbach/D Barritt ZIM Citroen C4 2hr 36min 19.6sec
10 K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 2hr 39min 04.8sec
Bron | M-Sport
Birthday boy Hirvonen wraps
up opening day lead in Finland.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World
Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen celebrated his 29th birthday in style
today as he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen led the opening leg of Rally
Finland from start to finish. The Finns won four of the eight gravel
speed tests in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to build a 3.3sec
lead in this ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Team-mates
Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila are fourth in another Focus RS
Hirvonen's day of celebration was completed when he was presented with a
huge birthday cake by team director Malcolm Wilson in the service park
at Jyväskylä this evening in front of his home town fans, who burst into
an impromptu chorus of Happy Birthday.
Rally Finland is widely viewed as the highlight of the season and huge
crowds packed the horse trotting track on the edge of Jyväskylä last
night for a short opening speed test. The action began in earnest this
morning as the 90 starters journeyed north-west of the town for two
identical loops of four special stages amid the forests and lakes of the
picturesque countryside. The day ended with a second pass over the
Killeri trotting track test, drivers having completed 130.84km of
Warm sunshine brought more massive crowds into the forests to watch the
action on the blisteringly fast roller-coaster roads, which boast
characteristics unique to the championship. Stomach-churning jumps hid
fast bends just beyond the crests, demanding full concentration from the
drivers and pin-point accuracy in the delivery of the pace notes from
Hirvonen, who leads the
drivers' championship by one point with four rounds remaining, was third
after last night's curtain-raiser. He took the lead by winning this
morning's opening stage at a remarkable average speed of 126.13kph, and
stretched his advantage to 7.1sec after also winning the next test. He
reached the mid-leg service with a lead of 3.6sec.
After stiffening the suspension settings on his Focus RS WRC, the
afternoon loop was a carbon copy of this morning. Hirvonen was again
quickest over the opening two stages, before nearest rival Sébastien
Loeb edged closer by winning the next two as the battle for the lead
raged between them.
"I'm leading my home rally on my birthday – things don't get much better,"
said Hirvonen. "This time last year I was 14sec behind Loeb so that's a
big improvement. I'm feeling confident but I know that I must continue
to push because he is only a few seconds away and won't give up. I
prefer it that way because it's really enjoyable to be driving flat out
and fighting for tenths of a second.
"Now that the battle is on I don't feel as relaxed as yesterday, but
that was to be expected. I thought the first two stages of each loop
would be harder for me but, ironically, they were the two tests on which
I was fastest. I made a few small mistakes this afternoon but nothing
serious. Tomorrow is a big, big day and I must be prepared," he added.
Latvala settled into fourth during a solid morning and the 24-year-old
Finn was delighted to emerge safely from the Mökkiperä stage after
crashing there in both 2007 and 2008. "It has been a difficult stage in
the past and it was a special feeling for me to finish that test. The
pressure went away and I felt I could breathe again," he explained.
He remained in fourth during the afternoon and returned to Jyväskylä
30.1sec behind his team-mate, but only 10.1sec behind third-placed Dani
"As a result of my mistakes in previous years I haven't driven these
stages for the past two seasons so I was quite cautious. I know
tomorrow's roads better and will feel more confident. I've done what I
was asked to do today and driven to help Mikko's title challenge. After
my error on the last round it took time for me to relax but now I feel
I'm nearly at 100 percent with my rhythm and confidence. My target is to
overtake Sordo but he's driving well and there's no point in driving
crazily to achieve that. I'm here to be a team player," he added.
Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr are 12th in the team's
other Focus RS WRC. "We had an interesting start on this morning's
stages," commented Al Qassimi. "We started to lift the pace as the day
went on but we really need more mileage under our belts. The roads here
are some of the fastest around which obviously brings with it
difficulties – you need to be fully committed through the fast corners
and for that you need to have a true feeling for the car."
News from other Ford teams
Finns Matti Rantanen and Mikko Lukka made a tremendous debut for the
Munchi's Ford team by holding fifth in their Focus RS WRC with
team-mates Federico Villagra and Jorge Perez Companc in 13th. Stobart VK
M-Sport Ford drivers Henning Solberg and Caro Menkerud are sixth in
their Focus RS WRC, although the Norwegian driver admits he has
struggled for pace in the fast Finnish forests. Team-mates Matthew
Wilson and Scott Martin said the same after piloting their similar car
The second leg in Finland is traditionally one of the season's classic
days. After a 06.15 start, competitors head south-west of Jyväskylä to
tackle two loops of three stages near Jämsä, before a late afternoon
cluster of tests near Mänttä. They return for the final overnight halt
at 20.42 after more than 14 hours behind the wheel. They face 166.87km
of action, almost half the rally's competitive distance.
Leaderboard after Day 1
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 04min 12.3sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 1hr 04min 15.6sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 1hr 04min 32.3sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 04min 42.4sec
5. M Rantanen/M Lukka FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 05min 26.4sec
6. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 1hr 05min 29.0sec
7. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Subaru Impreza 1hr 05min 48.8sec
8. J Ketomaa/M Stenberg FIN Subaru Impreza 1hr 05min 50.7sec
9. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 1hr 06min 26.9sec
10 M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 1hr 06min 30.4sec
Bron | M-Sport
terug overzicht WRC