WRC Hirvonen and Kosciuszjko lead in Rally Poland
ORLEN Platinum 66th Rally Poland
FIA World Rally Championship, round 8
For immediate release
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
HIRVONEN HANGS ON GRIMLY THROUGH THE 10TH
STAGE OF ORLEN PLATINUM 66TH RALLY POLAND
- Latvala maintains second place; Sordo on a charge in third
- Kosciuszko moves ahead of Abbring in JWRC
- Loeb begins climb back from overnight 32nd position
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen maintained his overall lead in the ORLEN Platinum 66th Rally Poland through Saturday morning’s loop of three loose surface special stages to the north-east of Mikolajki, but he was being pressurised by a hard-charging Dani Sordo and Finnish team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
After 10 timed stages, Hirvonen’s lead was just three seconds and Sordo had managed to make alarming in-roads into Latvala’s hold on second position. The Spaniard was fastest in SS9 and quicker than both Fords through the 10th stage to set up a fascinating tussle over the afternoon’s three repeat stages.
Hirvonen beat his team-mate by 1.6s through Danowo and moved 10.5s in front heading into the two 30km specials in Gawliki and Wydminy before the return to Mikolajki for service. Latvala edged further clear of Sordo, but the Spaniard vowed to keep up the pressure.
Loeb started ninth on the road after his first day delays and in 32nd overall, around 16 minutes behind the top 10 and a Drivers’ Championship point. Predictably, he was back on the pace and set the fastest time in SS9 as he began a charge back through the back-markers.
Rautenbach lost time on the narrow forest sections and Mads Ostberg dropped half a minute with a clogged radiator and a rising engine temperature, but the top 10 held station through the stage.
Hirvonen eased his pace a little too much through Gawliki and Sordo and Latvala managed to close the gap, with Sordo reducing Jari-Matti grip on second place to 23.8s. Hirvonen’s overall lead was whittled down to just 3.9s.
“I tried to push harder, but I didn’t really make up the time,” said Mikko. “Maybe they are gaining a little bit, but it’s okay. There is still a long way to go. I need to speed up a little that’s for sure.”
Ogier began to pressurise Henning Solberg for fifth and just 3.8s separated fourth-placed Petter Solberg and Ogier in sixth heading into the Wydminy stage. Local hero Krzysztof Holowczyc edged ahead of a struggling Conrad Rautenbach and claimed eighth place.
Sordo was in sensational form through the 10th stage. He beat both the Fords again and climbed to within 16.5s of Latvala, although the Finn moved to within three seconds of the overall lead. Ogier was also in flying form and managed to displace both Henning and Petter Solberg to take fourth.
The fight for supremacy in the JWRC category raged between Kevin Abbring, Michael Kosciuszko and Martin Prokop.
Abbring was fastest in the eighth stage and Kosciuszko edged another 3.5s further away from Prokop, but fortunes were reversed in the longer Gawliki test and the flying Pole reduced the Dutchman’s lead to just 11.6 seconds.
Abbring missed a braking point on the high-speed track and things went from bad to worse in SS10, when 12th-placed Kosciuszko roared into the lead for the first time, with Prokop a mere 11.8 seconds behind Abbring heading into service.
ORLEN Platinum 66th Rally Poland –positions after SS10:
1. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS 1h 42m 33.2s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Focus RS 1h 42m 36.2s
3. Dani Sordo (E)/Marc Marti (E) Citroën C4 1h 42m 52.7s
4. Sébastien Ogier (F)/Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroën C4 1h 43m 54.8s
5. Henning Solberg (N)/Cato Menkerud (N) Ford Focus RS 1h 44m 06.5s
6. Petter Solberg (N)/Philip Mills (GB) Citroën Xsara 1h 44m 13.2s
7. Matthew Wilson (GB)/Scott Martin (GB) Ford Focus RS 1h 45m 16.7s
8. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (PL) Ford Focus RS 1h 45m 38.6s
9. Conrad Rautenbach (ZW)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Citroën C4 1h 46m 25.1s
10. Mads Ostberg (N)/Jonas Andersson (S) Subaru Impreza WRC 1h 48m 02.3s