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Aug 01, 2014 - 05:59 PM
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Strong 'Finnish' Still In Sight
Posted by: newsla on Aug 01, 2014 - 05:56 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
Strong 'Finnish' Still In Sight


M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen may be holding sixth place at the end of Rally Finland’s second day, but there is still all to play for. Immersed in one of the event’s most closely-fought battles, the Finn has not given up on a stronger result with 166.96 kilometres of competitive stages yet to run.

 

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The day’s action unfolded in true rally territory with nine stages through Jamsa’s renowned forests. High speeds, big jumps and technical roads were the order of the day and Hirvonen remained upbeat behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC on the familiar ground.

The Finn embarked on the first full day of competition with one goal in mind – chasing down a coveted Rally Finland podium amidst stiff competition from his rivals. Controlling the gaps over the morning loop the M-Sport man kept himself in contention to do just that, but a spin through the second pass of Päijälä (SS10) put paid to his efforts.

Lose time in Finland and the blisteringly quick terrain will make you work harder than ever to win it back. Hirvonen knows that better than most but with two days of rallying still to go this notoriously unforgiving event is far from over.

The unrivalled experience of Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen could yet prove pivotal. There are few who know these stages as well as M-Sport’s resident Finns and the pairing have not lost sight of a strong result on home soil.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans was getting to grips with the power and performance of his world rally car through the legendary speed tests. Looking much more comfortable on the more technical stages, the youngster’s renewed confidence prompted a significant increase in speed.

Having made good notes for the narrower sections, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt set a string of encouraging times which saw them climb well into the top-ten.

In what is his development year, the Welshman is determined to gain maximum experience. Adopting a risk-free strategy, he refused to be drawn in by the tempting nature of the high-speed stages and is resolute on making every kilometre count towards his progression.

Mikko Hirvonen (6th) said:

“We had a spin on SS10 which was a bit frustrating as we lost all of the advantage that we had gained over the guys behind. It was a silly mistake, but it happens sometimes. Everyone is so close to the limit here that it can happen and we were lucky that there was no damage to the car.

“I’m really looking forward to the fight over the next two days. For sure everyone is pushing hard and everyone is going to be fast, but there is still a long way to go. I feel confident and I enjoy these stages so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Elfyn Evans (8th) said:

“It’s been an OK day. We haven’t taken any big risks. We’ve just tried to drive cleanly and stay out of trouble which I think we have managed to do so that’s a good foundation to build on tomorrow.

“I feel as though there is a massive improvement from yesterday but there are obviously areas where we could still go faster. You have to be super confident to set the fast times here. We weren’t quite ready to take the necessary risks today, but let’s see where we are tomorrow.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s fair to say that Mikko [Hirvonen] is frustrated after the spin he had this afternoon as he knows how difficult it is to regain any lost time around here. Having said that, there is still a long way to go on some very difficult stages; if anyone’s experience can play a key role this weekend, it’s his.

“After yesterday’s tricky conditions it is great to see Elfyn [Evans] showing some good pace with some particularly good split times. He’s made a marked improvement from where he was yesterday and as he gains more confidence there is scope for him to improve further.”


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