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WRC NEWS 

Hirvonen closing on Poland win

Mikko Hirvonen, Ford, Rally Poland 2009Ford's Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala are closing on a one-two finish in the Rally Poland after Dani Sordo lost touch with the lead battle when he overshot a corner on this morning's first stage.

The Ford duo had already looked secure in first and second when they pulled away from Sordo yesterday afternoon, and Citroen's remaining hopes of challenging the two Finns ended when Sordo lost 25 seconds with a minor error at a hairpin on the Milki stage.

"I had in the pace notes 'brake at the fourth panel', but the fourth panel is not on the stage..." Sordo explained.

He admitted that he had called off his bid to chase down the Fords after that incident.

"Now the plan is just to finish," said Sordo. "I'll be careful."

Hirvonen said that he had also eased his pace once he learned of Sordo's delay.

"Now that Sordo's made a mistake, we can take it easier," said Hirvonen, who now leads Latvala by 9.4s and Sordo by a minute with two full-length stages and a superspecial remaining. "But I still managed to do a really big jump and break the windscreen on landing."

The battle for fourth continues, with Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) initially pulling away from the Solbergs by winning SS14, before Henning Solberg (Stobart Ford) struck back by going fastest through the next stage, bringing the gap back down to 16.9s.

"The car is actually very fast, so it's only up to me," said Solberg.

Petter Solberg has dropped down to sixth, half a minute down on Ogier, after oil leaked onto his Citroen Xsara's windscreen during today's first stage.

"For the last 15 kilometres I couldn't see anything. Nothing!" said Solberg. "I don't know what it is, but I can't see through the windscreen."

Despite Matthew Wilson being fairly confident that he has seventh place in the bag, his Stobart team-mate Krzysztof Holowczyc has reduced the gap between them to just 10s.

Mads Ostberg's miserable weekend came to an end when he stopped on SS14 with damage to his Adapta Subaru. His departure has moved Citroen Junior's Evgeny Novikov back to 10th despite the Russian's huge superally time penalties following his Friday accident. Novikov's eventful rally continued today as he sustained a puncture and bodywork damage on Milki.

Leading positions after SS15:

Pos  Driver               Car        Time/Gap
 1.  Mikko Hirvonen       Ford     2h43m45.5s
 2.  Jari-Matti Latvala   Ford     +     9.4s
 3.  Dani Sordo           Citroen  +  1m02.2s
 4.  Sebastien Ogier      Citroen  +  1m52.4s
 5.  Henning Solberg      Ford     +  2m09.3s
 6.  Petter Solberg       Citroen  +  2m24.4s
 7.  Matthew Wilson       Ford     +  4m08.7s
 8.  Krzysztof Holowczyc  Ford     +  4m19.4s
 9.  Conrad Rautenbach    Citroen  +  6m11.2s
10.  Evgeny Novikov       Citroen  + 17m30.0s

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