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Jun 29, 2014 - 06:33 AM
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Back Where He Belongs: Hirvonen In Podium Fight
Posted by: newsla on Jun 29, 2014 - 06:31 AM
WRC Rally News 2010
Back Where He Belongs: Hirvonen In Podium Fight


M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen is back where he belongs; fighting for the podium at this week’s Rally Poland. Unfortunately, there was less good news for his team mate Elfyn Evans who was forced to cut short an impressive drive when he became one of numerous crews caught out by a rogue rock on SS14.

 

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Despite having made his pacenotes too slow for the quick-paced roads, M-Sport’s resident Finn refused to give in. Focused on the task in hand, Hirvonen did not let the situation distract him – his experience and determination paying dividends as his times improved throughout the day.

Having studied all of the onboard videos in detail yesterday evening, he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen significantly improved their pace over the morning loop; and when others were caught out by the tricky nature of the stages, Hirvonen held his own.

Using the first pass as a high-speed recce, the M-Sport man was able to make further gains over the afternoon and reduced the seconds per kilometre ratio to the leaders considerably. Currently holding fourth place overall, the Fiesta driver is just 10 seconds shy of a podium position.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt were continuing to progress. Setting some highly competitive split times the Brits were settling into a good rhythm – ready to maintain their pace over the course of a full stage during this afternoon’s second pass. Unfortunately, that opportunity never arose.
Clipping a stone two kilometres from the end of Goldap-1 (SS14), the Welshman damaged the lower front suspension link of his Fiesta. Despite their best efforts, he and Barritt were unable to make a satisfactory repair and had no option but to retire for the day.

With minimal damage to their Fiesta, the M-Sport technicians quickly got to work and the youngster will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

Mikko Hirvonen (4th) said:

“It’s been tricky today as well. It’s been a lot better than it has been, but I was still struggling with the notes throughout the whole day. We managed to identify a lot of corrections this morning but we just didn’t have time to correct everything.

“We’re pretty close to that podium position and anything is possible. Thierry [Neuville] has been driving well today and Jari-Matti [Latvala] has been flying so I think it’s going to be a good fight tomorrow – and I’m going to try and take it.”

Elfyn Evans (40th) said:

“It was going really well for us and there was nothing particularly hairy throughout the stage. We’d had a good clean run and made some good progress throughout the morning.

“On a fast left-hander we opened for a little bit more lock half way through and there was a big stone on the inside which I didn’t have in my notes. Mads [Østberg] had an incident in the same place and there are reports of a lot of other drivers having damage and punctures there too. Yes it was a mistake, but I don’t think many people would have had that stone in their notes so we just have to put it down to experience.

“We’d like to go back out there tomorrow and build on what we have done so far. I think it’s important to stay positive and continue the progress we’ve already displayed here this weekend.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“Mikko [Hirvonen] is still struggling with his notes, but he has adapted to the situation and kept his Fiesta [RS WRC] clear of trouble. He’s not let it get him down too much, and it’s good to see him battling for a strong position.

“Elfyn [Evans] was making some really encouraging progression and I think it’s fair to say that he was very unfortunate today. The stone he hit was missing from a number of crews’ notes and I think he was just one of the unlucky ones. It’s good to see him in a positive mood and looking forward to getting back out on the stages tomorrow.”

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