Mikko Hirvonen leads Ford one-two amid high drama in Rally Australia

Mikko Hirvonen leads Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.6 seconds after a chaotic afternoon in Australia

Mikko Hirvonen leads Ford one-two amid high drama in Rally Australia

Amid extremely wet and slippery conditions, the Ford duo have survived Friday's main loops of stages to move into first and second, despite both making minor errors in the morning, as the works Citroens crashed out. Sebastien Loeb rolled his car on the day's second stage, while Sebastien Ogier - who had taken over the lead - struck a tree on the first stage after service this afternoon.

Hirvonen said that the stages had been among the most treacherous he had ever encountered.

"It's been like hell, unbelievable," he said. "So difficult to pick your place through the corner as you have no idea what grip you have. In some places when you hit the brakes it's just like ice and you just go straight."

Latvala won two of this afternoon's three stages, with Hirvonen taking the other fastest time. The field is now heading for another two runs through the Coffs Harbour superspecial to conclude the leg.

Petter Solberg is third, 41.4s off the lead, despite two spins today.

The Solberg Citroen had been only 10s ahead of Stobart Ford's Evgeny Novikov as the Russian looked poised to challenge for a podium, but Novikov has had to retire from the leg after hitting a rock on SS7. His Stobart team-mates Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson have stayed out of trouble and are fourth and fifth, ahead of the Abu Dhabi Ford of Khalid Al Qassimi.

The WRC field has been decimated by attrition, with the likes of Peter van Merksteijn and Daniel Oliveira joining Ken Block, Novikov and the Citroen pair in retirement after incidents this afternoon.

Production class leader Hayden Paddon is therefore up in seventh overall, and could clinch the title this weekend.

Leading positions after SS8: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 1h11m30.2s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 6.6s 3. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 41.4s 4. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 2m24.4s 5. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 2m53.9s 6. Khalid Al Qassimi Abu Dhabi Ford + 4m31.4s 7. Hayden Paddon Symtech Subaru + 4m56.6s 8. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Mitsubishi + 6m19.5s 9. Oleksandr Saliuk Mentos Mitsubishi + 6m57.3s 10. Benito Guerra GMA Mitsubishi + 8m06.0s 
shares
comments
Citroen hopes Sebastien Loeb will restart on day two following crash

Previous article

Citroen hopes Sebastien Loeb will restart on day two following crash

Next article

Sebastien Loeb puts his Rally Australia crash down to a lapse in concentration

Sebastien Loeb puts his Rally Australia crash down to a lapse in concentration
Load comments
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021