Mikko Hirvonen extended his overall lead in the Orlen Platinum 66th Rally Poland to 12 seconds, after the 13 timed special stages at the end of day two on Saturday afternoon.
“It has been fantastic, a proper fight for the lead, and I've enjoyed today so much,” said Hirvonen. “I struggled a little with being first through the stages, which I also didn't expect. The road surface was damp with hard mud on top after the rain and I was breaking up the surface to leave better grip for those behind.”
The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver remains on course to snatch the FIA Drivers’ Championship advantage from Sébastien Loeb.
Citroen Total WRT driver Sebastien Loeb crashed out on SS4. He ripped a wheel off his C4 WRC 1.2km into the stage, after apparently hitting a tree stump. Both Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena were OK according to a Citroen spokesman. This marks the third straight rally in which Loeb has dropped out early. This is in marked contrast to earlier in the season where he looked invincible.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala maintained second place and Loeb’s teammate Dani Sordo played the tried to maintain pressure on the leading Fords with third overall.
Sébastien Ogier, Henning and Petter Solberg fought a frenzied battle for fourth, fifth and sixth places. Ogier maintained fourth position, but Petter passed his brother into fifth place on the final few kilometers of the 13th stage. Henning’s teammate, Matthew Wilson was secure in seventh position in his Stobart Ford Focus.
The final five special stages on Sunday promise to be a thrilling prospect, with Latvala needing to fend off Sordo’s challenge to give Ford two crucial extra points towards the FIA Manufacturers’ Championship.
Leaderboard after Day 2
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 21min 45.8sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 21min 57.8sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 22min 24.3sec
4. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 2hr 23min 45.1sec
5. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen Xsara 2hr 23min 52.5sec
6. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 2hr 23min 53.8sec
7. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 25min 33.8sec
8. K Holowczyc/L Kurzeja POL Ford Focus RS 2hr 25min 59.1sec
9. C Rautenbach/D Barritt ZIM Citroen C4 2hr 27min 11.7sec
10 M Østberg/ J Andersson NOR Subaru Impreza 2hr 28min 21.3sec
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