Mikko Hirvonen Wins Rally Finland

Mikko Hirvonen has moved one step closer to securing his first ever World Rally Championship crown after clinching his maiden Neste Oil Rally Finland win in career on Sunday. Driving in front of a home crown, the Fin brought his Ford Focus RS home more than 25 seconds ahead of his championship rival and reigning WRC champion Sebastien Loeb.

The Ford driver ended what could be summarized as a safe weekend for him in Finland, as he managed to outscore his competition from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. Having ended Day 1 with a slight advantage over Loeb - a little over 3 seconds - Hirvonen put the hammer on during Day 2 and headed towards the Sunday stages with almost 30 seconds of advantage over the Citroen driver.

Day three was simply a take-no-risk approach from the 29-year old Finn, as he ended the rally 25.1 seconds ahead of Loeb. This was a much-awaited revenge for the local hero, after ending last year's edition of the rally in the runner-up spot, only 9 seconds to the Frenchman.

Ford managed to once again outscore their rivals Citroen this weekend, as 3rd place belonged to the team's other Finish driver Jari-Matti Latvala. Despite suffering from food poisoning problems throughout Day 1 of the event, Latvala recovered well on Saturday and regained 3rd place ahead of Dani Sordo, which he never let go until the finish line.

Just like last year, privateer Matti Tantanen managed to finish his home rally inside the point-scoring positions, coming home in 5th place. The 4 points he claimed did not come easy though, as the Finn had to face some tough opposition from Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier in the dying stages of the rally. In the end, only 0.3 seconds separated the two in the overall classification.

The Top 8 was completed by privateer Jari Ketomaa and Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson.

Thanks to this win, Hirvonen is now 3 points clear of Loeb in the overall standings, with only 3 rounds to go in the 2009 campaign.
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