Ford pulls away again in Poland
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, June 27th 2009, 15:21 GMT|
Ford's bid for a crucial one-two in the Rally Poland looks more secure after Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala managed to pull away from Dani Sordo again on this afternoon's stages.
Sordo's burst of speed this morning had prompted the Ford duo to raise their game, having thought they might be allowed an easy run to the finish following Sebastien Loeb's day one retirement.
Having seen Sordo halve the deficit to Hirvonen on the first loop, after service Ford's Finnish pair responded in emphatic style, beating the Spaniard on all three stages and leaving him nearly 40s behind again.
Both Hirvonen and Latvala admitted that they had given their all on the new rally's extremely fast stages.
"This afternoon was insane," said Hirvonen. "You don't even listen to the notes, you just go flat-out no matter what's coming.
"I didn't expect this. I thought it might be a little bit easier, but since the second stage this morning we've been absolutely flat-out all day. It's been fantastic, absolutely fantastic."
Latvala added: "I've never driven so fast as I've driven this afternoon. It's amazing the jumps we are taking flat-out every time. I think when we go to bed we will be quite pleased. We have five stages to go and Sordo is pushing really, really hard so we have no choice but to go flat-out."
Sordo found that his Citroen was not handling as comfortably in the more rutted conditions of the second pass through the stages, and thinks his challenge for victory could be over with just four full-length stages on Sunday.
"I'm pushing hard but it's really difficult," Sordo said. "We don't have many stages tomorrow, and today I was only faster in the first run. Unless Jari or Mikko has problems, it will be difficult, but we will see."
Sebastien Ogier came back under attack from the Solberg brothers on today's second loop. Having overhauled them both to take fourth this morning, Ogier lost time when his Citroen Junior C4 twice stalled at hairpins, and was less comfortable with the handling than he had been earlier - whereas both Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) and Henning Solberg (Stobart Ford) gained pace on the second run.
The Norwegians closed to within four seconds of Ogier's fourth place before the reigning Junior champion picked up pace on the final stage of the day to re-establish a seven second advantage over the charging Petter Solberg.
"This afternoon it was much cleaner and I could get the speed," said Solberg. "But it was too far over the limit to keep doing that all the time."
Krzyzstof Holowczyc continues to edge closer to Stobart team-mate Matthew Wilson in their battle for seventh, with Conrad Rautenbach a distant ninth for Citroen Junior and Mads Ostberg (Adapta Subaru) continuing to endure a horrible weekend in 10th.
After his brush with a tree stump yesterday, Loeb took a number of stage wins today and got back up to 13th using the superally system, but will need retirements ahead to gain further ground.
An epic fight is developing in the Junior class. Surprise day one leader Kevin Abbring was overhauled by local favourite and title contender Michal Kosciuszko this morning, but fought back in spectacular fashion this afternoon and will take a 0.8s lead into Sunday. Martin Prokop remains third.
Leading positions after day two:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 2h21m45.8s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 12.0s 3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 38.5s 4. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1m59.3s 5. Petter Solberg Citroen + 2m06.7s 6. Henning Solberg Ford + 2m08.0s 7. Matthew Wilson Ford + 3m48.0s 8. Krzysztof Holowczyc Ford + 4m13.3s 9. Conrad Rautenbach Citroen + 5m25.9s 10. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 6m35.5s