Rally Griekenland 12 t/m 14 juni 2009

Einduitslag Rally Griekenland 2009

Officieel persbericht van M-Sport:

Hirvonen wins in Greece as Ford claims landmark victory!
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen won the Acropolis Rally of Greece today to secure Ford's 70th world rally victory. The Finns won this seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the toughest encounter in the 12-event series, by 1min 12.9sec in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were third in another Focus RS WRC to secure maximum points in the manufacturers' series for the Blue Oval.

Between them Hirvonen and Latvala led from start to finish of the three-day event to secure Ford's seventh win in 10 seasons in Greece. It was also the 40th world rally win for M-Sport, Ford's partner in the WRC and the British-based preparation company which runs the programme. It completed a perfect weekend for team director Malcolm Wilson, who received an OBE in The Queen's Birthday Honours list yesterday.

The result, the team's second consecutive victory following Latvala's success in Italy last month, rejuvenated its challenge in both championships. Ford is now just 15 points from the lead in the manufacturers' standings and second-placed Hirvonen has closed the gap in the drivers' series to just seven points.

Rock-strewn and abrasive gravel roads west of Athens and blistering temperatures, which topped 36ºC, ensured this year's event lived up to its gruelling reputation. It was a rally of attrition and a long string of frontrunners fell by the wayside during the 15 speed tests covering 341.01km (two tests were cancelled). However, neither Focus RS WRC missed a beat and both drivers looked after their cars and Pirelli's Scorpion tyres superbly, mixing pace with caution in the tough conditions.

Latvala led from the start before falling to 11th when he slid into a ditch on the last special stage of the opening day. Hirvonen was promoted into top spot but was fearful of running first in the start order yesterday, sweeping the gravel from the road surface to offer cleaner and faster conditions to his pursuers. However, as others struggled, Hirvonen stretched his lead and Latvala charged back to third. Both drove at a measured pace on today's short final leg to seal a memorable weekend.

"I drove a clever rally and my plan worked perfectly, with no mistakes and no punctures," said 28-year-old Hirvonen. "I knew that if we finished the rally without problems then we would be high in the order and that was the case. The key to success was to stay on the road and be cautious rather than drive flat out all the way. The car was amazing all weekend, especially the last stage which was so rough. I was fortunate to have such a large lead that I was able to drive steadily.

"We're back in the championship fight and the final five rallies of the year will be exciting. The next two events, in Poland and Finland, are on fast gravel roads which should suit me," he added.
Latvala admitted he was relieved to climb back onto the podium. "I thought I had lost everything on Friday evening. A place on the podium was never in my dreams but others made mistakes and their cars broke and that's exactly what I achieved. My strategy yesterday was to save the tyres, save the car and drive round the rocks and it paid off. This rally required respect and the result is so important for me and the team from the championship perspective," said the 24-year-old Finn.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished sixth in the team's third Focus RS WRC, a career best result for the 37-year-old Emirati driver.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson said: "It was a masterful drive from Mikko. Although he led after the first day, we were worried about the effect his start position would have on Saturday, but he knew exactly what to do and did it to perfection. Jari-Matti did a great job after his error and capitalised on the mistakes of others. It's the first time a Focus RS WRC has won a world rally with an engine built entirely at M-Sport, and that's a proud achievement. Our championship hopes were written off before Sardinia but we didn't give up and we're back in the fight."

John Fleming, Chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe received the manufacturers' trophy on the podium before saying: "Rallies don’t come any tougher than the Acropolis and to win the most demanding round of the WRC for the seventh time in 10 years is a fantastic achievement. To take two podium places and position four of our Focus RS WRCs in the top six is further testament to its strength, reliability and speed."

News from other Ford teams
Munchi's drivers Federico Villagra and José Diaz matched their career-best result with fourth in a Focus RS WRC. Stobart drivers Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin and Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud both claimed manufacturer points after finishing under SupeRally rules, following first and second day retirements. Wilson was 14th, after winning the penultimate stage, and Solberg was 15th.

Next round
Rally Poland (25 - 28 June) returns to the championship for the first time since 1973 as round eight of the series. The fast gravel event is based in Mikolajki

Final positions
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 4hr 09min 42.5sec
2. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 4hr 10min 55.4sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 4hr 11min 27.5sec
4. F Villagra/J Perez Companc ARG Ford Focus RS 4hr 13min 30.8sec
5. C Rautenbach/D Barritt ZIM Citroen C4 4hr 13min 42.3sec
6. K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 4hr 16min 46.8sec
7. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Subaru Impreza 4hr 22min 07.4sec
8. L Athanassoulas/N Zakheos GRC Skoda Fabia 4hr 22min 30.1sec
9. N Al-Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Subaru Impreza 4hr 22min 52.4sec
10 A Araujo/M Ramalho POR Mitsubishi Lancer 4hr 24min 47.0sec

Bron: M-Sport

Verslag van wrc.com:

Mikko Hirvonen wins the Acropolis Rally!
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team driver Mikko Hirvonen has won the Acropolis Rally of Greece, round seven of the 2009 World Rally Championship, after a perfect drive through the toughest conditions of the season in his Focus RS WRC.

The 28-year-old Finn carried a comfortable lead into Sunday’s final five stages, and kept out of trouble to finish 1min 12.9sec ahead of the man in second place, Citroen Junior team driver Sebastien Ogier.

The win was the eighth of Hirvonen’s WRC career and ended a victory drought that extended back to Rally Japan in 2008. After four second places this year, a perfect 10 point finish reignites his battle with Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb for this year’s drivers’ championship title.

Two rallies ago, Mikko trailed Loeb by 20 points, but a maximum score here, combined with Loeb’s exit on Saturday, means he’s now just seven behind. It was a remarkable turn around for the Finn who looked in a vulnerable position as road sweeper on Saturday morning.

“It really did look very difficult at the start but it worked out okay - a perfect weekend!” said Hirvonen. “It’s been a clever drive with no mistakes and no punctures. We thought before this event that if you get through without any problems you’ll be okay. It’s great for the team. Now we’re back in the game again - the timing couldn’t have been better!”

On the occasion of his first ever WRC podium finish, Ogier was celebrating too: “Perfect!” said the Frenchman. “This weekend was all about conservation. We made no mistakes and we looked after the car and the tyres. Just one puncture all weekend and the car has run perfectly. I couldn’t have hoped for a better result that this.”

Hirvonen’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala finished third, 32.1sec behind Ogier’s C4, to conclude a remarkable salvage job after going off the road on Friday. Latvala’s efforts earned Ford a maximum 18 points in the manufacturers’ championship, and went some way to restoring his team’s faith in him after his Day one disaster.

“Things can turn around quite quickly,” he grinned. “It was important for me to get this result, because now we have a better chance against Citroen. It’s my second podium in a row, so that’s a positive too. The next rounds in Poland and Finland are important for me and the team - I want to do better there.”

Bron: wrc.com

Uitslag na dag 2:

Hirvonen extends Ford's lead in Greece
Finland's Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen increased their lead in the Acropolis Rally of Greece today during a dramatic second leg. On a day of remarkable attrition, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers steered clear of trouble in their Focus RS World Rally Car to extend their advantage to 1min 40.1sec. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila also kept their cool in the Greek heat to charge up the leaderboard from 11th to third in a similar car.

Today's route took competitors across the historic Corinth Canal into the Peleponnese peninsula, south-west of the rally base in Loutraki. Drivers tackled two identical clockwise loops of three speed tests covering 135.36km, split by a lunchtime service in the town. Blistering early morning sunshine gave way to cooler conditions this afternoon as clouds offered respite for the crews and cars alike.

The Peleponnese was a traditional Acropolis venue in the 1980s, but has been unused since and the gravel special stages were narrow, highly technical and strewn with rocks. The arduous roads took a fearsome toll on the frontrunners as three of the top five crews retired this morning, with two more giving second best to the conditions this afternoon. However, the Focus RS WRCs never missed a beat, displaying the combination of strength, reliability and speed that is the key to success here.

Overnight leader Hirvonen was fearful of running first in the start order today, sweeping the slippery loose gravel from the road surface to offer cleaner and faster conditions for his pursuers behind. However, the 28-year-old extended his 3.0sec advantage into a 24.8sec lead during the first loop, protecting his Pirelli Scorpion tyres on the abrasive tracks during the opening two tests to give him the opportunity to win the third. A sensible pace this afternoon allowed him to stretch his lead further, as the conditions proved too much for his rivals.

"It was an incredible, but perfect, day for me," he said. "I made no mistakes and drove fast enough to lead and cautiously enough not to damage the car. My lead is good but I must remember that this is Greece, conditions are rough, and to take it steady tomorrow. I looked after my tyres and didn't hit any rocks. I'm surprised so many people made mistakes but it shows things go wrong under pressure, especially on technical stages like these.

"I never drove at maximum speed, it was a controlled drive and that paid off. Tomorrow's roads are easier than today but there will still be a lot of rocks to avoid. It's good to have such a strong lead because that gives me the time to drive around the rocks, and if I lose a few seconds here and there it doesn’t matter," he added.

Latvala, who lost the lead after sliding off the road on yesterday's final stage, stormed back up the leaderboard as others fell by the wayside. He made the most of the cleaner road conditions to win this morning's first test and completed the opening loop in fifth. A measured pace this afternoon, which included winning the first stage for a second time, sealed his recovery into a podium position.

"This rally requires respect and once you start to push then you encounter problems," said Latvala. "I knew something would happen today, but I'm surprised how much happened. The Acropolis showed its true nature, but I survived it. The roads were narrow, with rocks and small walls on the edge, so it was easy to hit a stone by cutting the bends. I kept a steady speed and can't believe I have climbed to third. I was thinking about seventh this morning, and I couldn't have imagined this.

"I want to control my pace again tomorrow. Third is my target, I have no ambition to chase second and risk making a mistake or damaging the car. I'm not going to try to take too big a piece of the cake," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr slipped from an overnight eighth to 11th this morning, but recovered well to move back into a points-scoring seventh place tonight in another Focus RS WRC. "It was tough and the car took a huge battering, but it withstood the punishment superbly. I couldn't push too much on the rocky surface and had to be sensible and avoid mistakes. I lost time on the final stage when I caught Petter Solberg, but it was so dusty that I had to stop four or five times. I couldn't get close enough to pass him and had to drive slowly simply to see the road," said Al Qassimi.

Team director Malcolm Wilson had a double reason to be happy tonight after receiving an OBE today in The Queen's Birthday Honours list. "What a turnaround today has been. Mikko delivered a mature and controlled performance to put himself into a very strong position tonight, while Jari-Matti drove sensibly to capitalise on the mistakes of others. The Focus RS WRC showed great strength and excelled in what were probably the roughest conditions of the season and I'm delighted to have both of them in podium positions tonight," he said.

News from other Ford teams

Munchi's drivers Federico Villagra and José Diaz lie sixth in their Focus RS WRC after a troublefree day. Stobart duo Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin restarted 31st after yesterday's early retirement, but a string of good stage times enabled the Britons to climb to 18th tonight. Team-mates Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud retired their Focus RS WRC from fifth after hitting a large rock and breaking the car's front right suspension.

Tomorrow’s Route

The final leg is the shortest of the rally with just 95.26km of competition, but included in that are two passes over the daunting 33.00km Aghii Theodori test, the longest of the rally. After leaving Loutraki at 09.00, drivers face an opening loop of three stages before service, and a final loop comprising two of the same tests. The finish is back in the town at 14.36.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 07min 33.0sec
2. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 3hr 09min 13.1sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 10min 17.2sec
4. E Novikov/D Moscatt RUS Citroen C4 3hr 11min 22.8sec
5. F Villagra/J Perez Companc ARG Ford Focus RS 3hr 11min 36.1sec
6. C Rautenbach/D Barritt ZIM Citroen C4 3hr 11min 44.9sec
7. K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 3hr 13min 42.4sec
8. N Al-Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Subaru Impreza 3hr 18min 37.6sec
9. L Athanassoulas/N Zakheos GRC Skoda Fabia 3hr 18min 46.4sec
10 A Araujo/M Ramalho POR Mitsubishi Lancer 3hr 18min 47.5sec

Bron: M-Sport

Uitslag na dag 1:

Hirvonen leads as Ford takes charge in Greece:

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team led throughout today's opening leg of the Acropolis Rally of Greece. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila topped the leaderboard in their record-breaking Ford Focus RS World Rally Car for most of the sun-drenched day in the mountains north-west of Athens. When the Finns dropped time during the final speed test, team-mates and fellow countrymen Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen moved to the front to end the day with a 3.0sec advantage. Latvala's car slid wide into a ditch on the outside of a tight right corner on the final special stage and the 3min 30sec it took to manhandle it back onto the road dropped him to 11th. Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr, driving a third Focus RS WRC for the team, lie eighth tonight.

This seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship marks the start of the second half of the season. With a new base in the holiday resort of Loutraki, 80km west of the Greek capital, organisers made full use of the historic Corinth Canal nearby to host last night's start ceremony. Today's action took competitors around the Gulf of Corinth towards Itea for classic Acropolis tests not used for several years. Six stages were scheduled, although one was cancelled pre-event, so drivers faced 119.37km of competition.

Blistering temperatures touched 37ºC in the run-up to the rally, although a strong breeze today made conditions slightly more bearable. However, it was still baking hot inside the cars as drivers tackled the rocky gravel tracks near Loutraki and high in the Parnassos mountains, near Itea. A combination of the heat and the rough roads made it a tough test for Pirelli's Scorpion tyres, but the Ford trio were delighted with the performance of the rubber in the arduous conditions.

Latvala took full advantage of a favourable start position to take the lead on the opening test after the slippery gravel tracks were swept clean by the early starters to leave a faster line. He extended his lead to 10.3sec before a mistake midway through the final 23.76km Thiva test cost him the lead.

"I was trying to drive as fast as possible to increase my lead," explained Latvala. "I drove a long downhill section into a medium left corner before a tight right bend. I braked too late for the first bend and the rear of the car slid into a ditch at the hairpin. It was a driver mistake and I'm really disappointed because it has made things hard for Mikko and the team tomorrow. I will try to climb back into the points but I can't push too much otherwise I will wear my tyres too quickly.

"I enjoyed a strong, clean run this morning. Road position certainly helped on the first stage, which had a lot of slippery gravel on the surface, but not as much on the second test which wasn't as loose. I could have pushed more but it wasn't necessary. There was a lot of dust in the first stage and I also had to ease off when a pin holding the bonnet came loose. I could see the bonnet lifting on faster sections and I was worried that it would break off," added 24-year-old Latvala.

Hirvonen was second in the start order and while that was far from ideal, it gave him an advantage over championship rival Sébastien Loeb who started first. Hirvonen settled into a comfortable third before Latvala's mistake, and a rapid change of tactics from second-placed Dani Sordo, promoted the Focus RS WRC driver into the overnight lead.

"The gravel was so loose and slippery in places everything seemed to happen in slow motion," said 28-year-old Hirvonen. "The car has been perfect and I was counting on ending the day in second or third tonight to have a good start position tomorrow. I was surprised to find myself in first, and while it's good to lead, it will be difficult tomorrow cleaning the roads. Tomorrow's stages are slower and steeper, with plenty of hairpins so the nature of them won't work in our favour, but this is the toughest round of the season and there are plenty of twists and turns to come yet – in many senses."

Abu Dhabi's Al Qassimi steadily climbed the order to end the day in a points-scoring position. "Despite the loose road conditions and high temperatures, I found a good pace. I came very close to rolling when the car landed on its nose after a crest but we survived. This is a really tough rally and I'm happier with my performance than I was here last year, and I hope that continues," he said.

BP Ford team director Malcolm Wilson said: "Everything was going to plan until Jari-Matti's mistake on the final stage. That was a disappointment and it means that while Mikko leads tonight, he must open the stages and clean the roads in the morning. It's a difficult position, but Jari-Matti proved in the last round in Sardinia that it is possible to win from that situation and this is a long, hard rally."

News from other Ford teams
Stobart drivers Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud lie sixth in their Focus RS WRC, despite the Norwegians struggling to find a set-up with which they were happy and overheating the brakes on the opening test. Team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin retired on the second stage when the oil pressure dropped on their Focus RS WRC. They will restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules in 32nd place. Munchi's crew Federico Villagra and José Diaz are seventh, despite sliding off the road at a hairpin bend on the second stage.

Tomorrow’s Route
After today's marathon leg, tomorrow's action is based closer to Loutraki. After restarting at 08.30, drivers tackle two identical clockwise loops of three tests in the Peloponnese region, a traditional Acropolis venue during the 1980s but new to all the current competitors. They tackle 135.36km, the two loops split by a return to Loutraki for service. Drivers return for the overnight halt at 19.18.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 27min 11.3sec
2. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 1hr 27min 14.3sec
3. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 1hr 27min 32.4sec
4. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen Xsara 1hr 27min 53.1sec
5. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 1hr 28min 29.0sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 1hr 28min 29.1sec
7. F Villagra/J Perez Companc ARG Ford Focus RS 1hr 29min 15.4sec
8. K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 1hr 29min 26.3sec
9. C Rautenbach/D Barritt ZIM Citroen C4 1hr 29min 27.8sec
10 M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Subaru Impreza 1hr 29min 52.3sec

Bron: M-Sport

terug overzicht WRC     terug naar begin