Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen will take a 36.3 second advantage into Saturday’s third day of Rally de Portugal
Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen holds the lead at the end of the second day of Rally de Portugal and following the cancellation of the repeat loop he will now take a 36.3 second advantage into Saturday’s third leg.
Hirvonen survived the carnage today, which claimed a number of drivers, including overnight leader Jari-Matti Latvala and Latvala’s Ford team-mate, Petter Solberg, to emerge as the favourite for the victory, although with conditions so difficult and unpredictable, there could yet be another twist in proceedings.
“I just drove slowly enough [to get through]. It’s been unbelievable, just so difficult. It’s not the first time we have had such difficult conditions, but what we were faced with on the first loop was fairly exceptional,” Hirvonen said back in service.
“In some places there was so much fog you couldn’t even see 10 metres and then there was all the mud and rain as well. You just had to drive slowly, sometimes in first or second gear. That’s all you can do. I just made sure I didn’t do any mistakes and that was the right thing to do.
“We are in a good position now. For sure it is important we finish the rally but we have a good chance to win it. I will try to make the best out of it. But still I am going to take it steady and make sure I don’t do any stupid mistakes.”
Evgeny Novikov meanwhile heads the chasing pack in his M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC and he too agreed that conditions were far from easy: “It was very difficult out on the stages. It was raining, it was foggy, it was very slippery,” he remarked.
“We also had a problem with the intercom so Denis [Giraudet – my co-driver] had to call my pace notes with the road headset which made it quite difficult for him. Everything is okay with the car though. I’m feeling confident in it and my times have been good. We just need to carry on the way we have been going. Maximum attack.”
Mads Ostberg, who is third overnight, echoed the thoughts of his two rivals ahead: “It has been very difficult with very tricky conditions, that’s for sure! We have been trying to push but it is difficult with the fog, rain and mud. But okay we have had quite a clean run with no major problems and I think that is why we are in this position now,” he continued.
The action will now resume on Saturday, with SS11, the 26.22 km Almodovar 1 test, due to start at 09.49 hours local time.
Rally de Portugal: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):
1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 20mins 01.7secs M
2. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 36.3secs M
3. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 41.8secs M
4. Patrik Sandell Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +03mins 07.2secs
5. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 25.8secs
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +03mins 46.9secs M
7. Peter van Merksteijn Jr van Merksteijn Motorsport Citroen DS3 WRC +03mins 50.8secs
8. Dennis Kuipers M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 41.1secs
9. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +05mins 45.1secs
10. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 52.3secs
11. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +00mins 58.9secs
15. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC _08mins 45.0secs
DNS. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Did not start – crashed in Qualifying stage
DNS. Kevin Abbring VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Did not start – crashed in shakedown
SS2. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC Did not start SS2*
SS3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC Went off the road MSS5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M
SS5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M
SS5. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Stopped in test M
SS5. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 Stopped in stage S
SS6. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M
* denotes re-started under Rally 2