Mikko Hirvonen leads into final day in Portugal
||Saturday, March 31st 2012, 16:16 GMT
Mikko Hirvonen continues to lead the Rally of Portugal at the end of day two, as Petter Solberg grabbed the headlines with his charge up the order.
It took just two stages of Saturday afternoon's loop for Solberg (Ford) to achieve his target of jumping from ninth to fourth place - albeit assisted by Patrik Sandell crashing his Prodrive Mini out of fourth on Almodovar 2.
But having reached fourth, Solberg then hit a new problem as power steering failure left him struggling through the leg-ending Loule stage, dropping him back to fifth again, behind Nasser Al-Attiyah's Qatar Citroen. Given Solberg's Saturday pace, regaining the 16-second gap to Al-Attiyah on Sunday morning ought to be straightforward.
At the front, Citroen driver Hirvonen's lead is up to 1m11s over Mads Ostberg, who slowed slightly on the final stage as he was concerned about unusual noises from his Adapta Ford, which turned out to be due to a loose sumpguard. Despite this scare, Ostberg remains half a minute clear of M-Sport Ford's Evgeny Novikov.
While Solberg flew, his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala's rally got worse still as a fuel pressure problem cost him over 12 minutes on the first stage of the loop. The Finn was eventually able to resolve the problem and continue in a distant 17th place.
Dani Sordo was quickest on the only afternoon stage that Solberg did not win, but remains 12th in the Prodrive Mini following his Thursday night electrical problems.
Leading positions after SS15:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen 2h43m46.2s
2. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 1m11.9s
3. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 1m41.2s
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 6m10.1s
5. Petter Solberg Ford + 6m26.5s
6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 6m47.5s
7. Dennis Kuipers M-Sport Ford + 7m29.8s
8. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 8m00.2s
9. Peter van Merksteijn Jr van Merksteijn Citroen + 8m38.7s
10. Jari Ketomaa Autotek Ford + 11m36.7s