Finland: Hirvonen Leads from Loeb After SS5

Mikko Hirvonen got off to a great start in Rally Finland on Friday, as the Ford driver managed to quickly pull away from title rival Sebastien Loeb after the first super stages of the day. After 3 stages, the local favorite was already 7 seconds ahead of the Citroen driver, and it seemed like Hirvonen was on the right track to grabbing his maiden win in Finland.

However, a late surge from Loeb during the next couple of stages saw the Frenchman top the time charts in both SS4 and SS5, therefore reducing the gap to only 3.6 seconds after the first half of the Friday action.

Sebastien has definitely started to push as well, it's going to be a close fight,” admitted Hirvonen after SS5.

Loeb complained about the difficulty of the stages on Friday, but admitted his win in SS4 has boosted his confidence for the remainder of the day. Also, some slight adjustments to his C4 helped him tackle the difficult gravel stages more offensively, which translated into some good stage times towards the end of the morning action.

I changed the differential and the suspension a bit and now I can really push. There is a lot of gravel on the road, so its difficult to take much confidence – Finland is always something special,” admitted Loeb.

The Frenchman graduated to 2nd place after Petter Solberg was forced to pull out of the rally at the end of SS4. While running in 2nd place at the time, Solberg's 2-year old Xsara ran into a ditch only meters to the finish line. Although he did manage to take his car to the end of the stage, two punctures and some considerable damage to the car's bodywork was enough for the Norwegian to call it a day.

That means Citroen's Dani Sordo has now jumped to 3rd place overall, some 3.9 seconds ahead of Ford's second driver Jari-Matti Latvala. Fifth overall belongs to Adapta Subaru's Mads Ostberg – despite a steering problem with his Impreza – ahead of Munchi's Ford's guest driver Matti Rantanen, Stobart Ford's Henning Solberga and Subaru privateer Jari Ketomaa.

F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen is currently running into 19th place.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories