Rally Sardinië 21 t/m 24 mei 2009

Einduitslag na dag 3:

Victory for Latvala as Ford takes one-two finish in Sardinia
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team claimed a dominant one-two finish on Rally d'Italia Sardegna today with the Focus RS World Rally Car. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila led from start to finish to claim their second career win in the FIA World Rally Championship.

The Finns reached the podium in the resort of Porto Cervo with a 29.4sec advantage over team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen after three days of tough competition on the Mediterranean island.

Latvala's victory was his first since his maiden WRC success in Sweden in February 2008 and it was BP Ford Abu Dhabi's first one-two result since Rally Japan in November 2008. Ford, second in the manufacturers' championship, closed the gap on the leader after six of the 12 rounds with a maximum points haul. Hirvonen climbs to second in the drivers' standings with Latvala moving up to sixth.
Competitors tackled 17 speed tests covering 347.12km over narrow, flowing and rough gravel tracks near Olbia during three days of competition. Allied with searing temperatures, which topped 35ºC yesterday afternoon, the conditions placed big demands on cars, crews and Pirelli's Scorpion tyres. However, neither Focus RS WRC missed a beat in the Sardinian hills.

Latvala's win came the hard way. After leading throughout the opening leg, the 24-year-old had the disadvantage of opening the special stages for the final two days, sweeping them clear of gravel to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind. He started today with a 9.9sec lead and feared he would be unable to hold off his team-mate. However, the still early morning allowed huge clouds of dust to hang in the air, slowing all those behind Latvala and he extended his lead.

"Last season I finished third here and I said to myself that I wanted to come back and win this year," said Latvala. "It wasn't an easy weekend being first through the stages and I'm surprised, but delighted, to win because I thought Mikko would catch me this morning.
"The dust was a surprise and I was lucky with that. This is a very important win for me. I've had many unhappy moments since my first win, but now I'm back on the top step of the podium. I was starting to question my role in the team but I've proved the team's confidence in me was right and I thank Malcolm Wilson (team director) for that. You saw a new evolution of Jari-Matti here," he added.

Hirvonen and Lehtinen both struggled with a fever during the rally and 28-year-old Hirvonen was exhausted at the finish. "I have no energy and I've never felt so tired after a rally," he said. "This result, and the timing of it, is perfect for Ford. I thought I could fight for the win but the dust ended those hopes. Everyone behind Jari-Matti expected to have an advantage because he was sweeping the road but, ironically, he was the one who benefited because of the dust. I went off the road on a fifth gear corner in the first stage this morning because I couldn't see so I stopped taking risks.

"Jari-Matti deserves the win after his problems this season and I'm delighted for him. We had a great pre-rally test and the work we did there paid off on the event itself," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished 15th in another Focus RS WRC. After climbing to seventh, despite power steering difficulties, they retired late last night after problems in the final service. They restarted today under SupeRally rules and climbed to 10th until brake problems on the final test cost more than four minutes. "It was a difficult three days. We had a lot of bad luck with brakes and power steering, and then the problems last night in service. It's a shame because we were going well yesterday and I felt we could have easily been in the points," said Al Qassimi.

Malcolm Wilson was full of praise for his drivers. "They coped with whatever was thrown at them. It's a dream to see Jari-Matti win after a difficult year and I'm delighted to see him full of confidence. Mikko did an outstanding job and if the conditions were different this morning, there could have been a different winner. It was a great team effort and my thanks go to everyone involved," he said.

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans said: "I'm thrilled we're back to the level where we can not only compete with, but beat, our rivals. We have a huge mountain to climb in championship terms but we're back on top and it's a large step in the right direction. We'll go to the next round in Greece, for another hot weather, rough road rally, full of confidence after a weekend in which we were in control from start to finish."

News from other Ford teams
Stobart drivers Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin claimed sixth in a Focus RS, recovering well after losing time on the opening day when the hydraulic pipe split. Team-mates Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud took the final drivers' point in eighth. They started under SupeRally rules today after retiring on yesterday's penultimate test when they hit a tree and broke their car's front right suspension.

Next round
The championship enters its second half next month when the action switches to Greece. The new base of Loutraki hosts the gravel Acropolis Rally of Greece on 11 - 14 June.

Final positions
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 4hr 00min 55.7sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 4hr 01min 25.1sec
3. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen Xsara 4hr 02min 53.3sec
4. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 4hr 04min 39.4sec
5. E Novikov/D Moscatt RUS Citroen C4 4hr 06min 07.5sec
6. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 4hr 08min 25.0sec
7. M Østberg/V Engan NOR Subaru Impreza 4hr 14min 16.3sec
8. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 4hr 14min 16.9sec
9. N Al-Attiyah/G Bernacchini QAT Subaru Impreza 4hr 20min 39.4sec
10 P Sandell/E Axelsson SWE Skoda Fabia 4hr 20min 40.9sec

1. S Loeb 55pts
2. M Hirvonen 38pts
3. D Sordo 31pts
4. H Solberg 21pts
5. P Solberg 20pts
6. J-M Latvala 19pts

1. Citroen Total 90pts
2. BP Ford Abu Dhabi 61pts
3. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford 44pts
4. Citroen Junior 18pts
5. Munchi's Ford 12pts

Bron: M-Sport

Uitslag na dag 2:

Ford tightens its grip on leading places in dramatic day in Italy
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team strengthened its one-two position at the head of the leaderboard in Rally d'Italia Sardegna today. Overnight leaders Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila retained top spot in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car despite enduring the worst of the dusty and slippery road conditions. The Finns are 9.9sec ahead of team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen and the Ford pair extended the advantage over their nearest challenger to more than a minute.

The second leg of this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship was one of attrition. While the Focus RS WRCs ran free of problems, five leading drivers were sidelined as the rocky gravel roads and temperatures, which topped 30ºC, took a heavy toll on the entry list.

After an early morning start from the rally base in Olbia, competitors tackled two identical loops of speed tests south-west of the town covering 130.74km. The loops were split by a return to the service park in Olbia at lunchtime.

Latvala faced the unenviable task of leading the 53 starters through the special stages, sweeping the roads clear of loose gravel to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind. However, the 24-year-old delivered a superb performance over the three morning tests as he preserved much of his lead, his 39.8sec advantage only reduced to 27.0sec. A trio of third fastest times this afternoon enabled him to stay ahead of a charging Hirvonen.

"Today was almost perfect, apart from a small spin at a junction in an asphalt section of the penultimate stage," said Latvala. "I drove as well as I could in those conditions and expected to lose more time. It was hard to judge the braking points this morning because as first car into the stages, there were no marks to help me. Running first was good for my experience and I needed to learn how to drive in those conditions.

"The gap to Mikko is very small and it will be hard for me to hold him off tomorrow as I will again open the stages. I would have liked a lead of about 25sec tonight, or to be behind Mikko and force him to do the cleaning role that I had to do today. But if I can drive like I have today then a win isn't out of the question," he added.

Hirvonen, second overnight, was equally impressive behind the wheel of his Focus RS WRC in both fighting off closest challenger Sébastien Loeb and closing in on Latvala. He was fastest on the opening test of each loop and widened the gap to Loeb before the Frenchman lost a minute with a puncture on the penultimate stage. He then sliced almost 10sec off Latvala's lead in the final test to close on his fellow countryman.

"I'm going for the win tomorrow," said 28-year-old Hirvonen, who has shaken off the effects of the fever which hampered him yesterday. "The situation looks good now. I took time from Jari-Matti today and he must clean the roads again tomorrow. It has been a great rally so far, but tomorrow won't be straight forward and it's easy to make a simple, but costly, mistake here.

"My day was very constant and my only problems came in stage eight this morning when I twice had to slow to allow wild horses to cross the road. On the first occasion there were about seven or eight and then I came upon two more, about 8km further on. It was like the Wild West!" he said.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr enjoyed a good day to climb from 10th to seventh in their Focus RS. They enjoyed a close fight with Conrad Rautenbach this morning, swapping positions on every stage, before overcoming a lack of power steering this afternoon to move up the order. "The problem started on the liaison section after lunchtime service. I contemplated retiring, but persevered and it was worth it – although my arms feel very tired now," said Al Qassimi.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson praised the efforts of both Latvala and Hirvonen. "It has been the best performance of the year so far. Both have driven fantastically well, especially given the disadvantage of their start position, and stayed out of trouble on the rough stages. It will be hard for Jari-Matti to stay ahead of Mikko as he must sweep the roads again, but the most important thing is to retain first and second," he said.

News from other Ford teams
Stobart drivers Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin had a troublefree day to climb from ninth to sixth in their Focus RS WRC. Team-mates Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud climbed to fifth on the opening stage, but a right rear puncture in the morning's final stage cost more than a minute and three positions. The Norwegians were sidelined this afternoon with broken front right suspension in the penultimate test and will restart tomorrow in 10th. Munchi's drivers Federico Villagra and Jorge Perez Companc restarted under SupeRally rules after retiring yesterday but retired again at the lunchtime service when Companc felt ill. They will not restart tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s Route
The final day is the shortest of the event. After leaving Olbia at 06.00, drivers face two loops of stages, split by a return to the town for service. Two stages south of the town feature in both laps, with a single run in the second loop through a test to the north, near the Costa Smeralda coastline. The finish is in Porto Cervo at 14.15.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 58min 03.5sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 58min 13.4sec
3. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen Xsara 2hr 59min 16.1sec
4. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 59min 18.3sec
5. E Novikov/D Moscatt RUS Citroen C4 3hr 00min 49.5sec
6. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 3hr 03min 06.3sec
7. K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 3hr 05min 01.4sec
8. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 3hr 07min 22.3sec
9. M Østberg/V Engan NOR Subaru Impreza 3hr 10min 32.5sec
10 H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 3hr 10min 33.6sec

Bron: M-Sport

Uitslag na dag 1:

Ford dominates opening day in Italy to claim first and second:

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team held first and second in Rally d'Italia Sardegna following today's opening leg after winning four of the six demanding gravel speed tests. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila returned to the rally base in Olbia this evening with a 39.8sec advantage over team-mates and fellow Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen. Both pairings are driving Ford Focus RS World Rally Cars.

The roasting temperatures encountered on the Mediterranean holiday island of Sardinia matched the blistering pace displayed by the Ford duo. Temperatures soared to 30ºC under cloudless skies as Latvala won two special stages during this morning's loop of three tests south of Olbia, and another two victories during the afternoon pass over the same roads. The six tests, over narrow but fast and flowing tracks, covered 130.20km.

Start order is always crucial in Sardinia where a slippery sandy surface hampers the early runners. Latvala, seventh in the running order, made the most of cleaner and faster roads to build a 14.6sec lead during the morning loop. "Although I led at lunchtime, I didn’t feel I found a good rhythm this morning as I was braking too much," said 24-year-old Latvala. "Under braking the engine revs were falling and the car felt as if it was going to stall, but that was simply because I was braking too hard."

The team fitted new brake pads and lowered the rear suspension to provide more grip through Pirelli's Scorpion tyres and Latvala felt more comfortable. He extended his lead this afternoon to 17.2sec before closest rival Sébastien Loeb slowed close to the finish of the final stage, taking a bold gamble to sacrifice time in favour of a slightly better start position tomorrow by dropping from second to third.

"It's the first time I've led at the end of a leg since Rally GB last season, so I'm delighted," said Latvala. "I found a better rhythm this afternoon and the set-up change to the car made a big improvement. I don't have much experience of running first in the start order on loose gravel so tomorrow will be a challenge. We need to keep cool heads and do a good job because the pressure is on the guys behind. The roads were flowing and that was good for a Finn like me. Loeb began the tactics on the last stage and we reacted well by stepping up our pace to build as big a lead as possible."
Team-mate Hirvonen spent much of yesterday in bed with a fever. The 28-year-old felt better today and completed the opening loop in third, 18.3sec behind Latvala. He remained there until the final stage, climbing to second as a result of Loeb's gamble. The difference between the drivers is 3.0sec.

"The roads were slippery this morning and I wasn't 100 per cent confident," said Hirvonen. "They were twisty, fast and narrow anyway, so to have less than perfect confidence made things difficult. I felt tired and lacking energy and had stomach cramps in the stages. It wasn't ideal because just one small mistake means it's easy to hit a rock or tree stump on the edge of the road.

"I knew there was the potential for tactics to come into play on the last stage, but road position today hasn't made as much of a difference as we thought it could, and I hope that is the same tomorrow. We will take some risks to drive flat out. Jari-Matti has a strong lead and the opportunity is there for one of us to win this rally," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr are 10th in another Focus RS WRC, despite brake difficulties this morning. "I had to pump the pedal about 50 metres before a bend to get them to work so I drove cautiously," said Al Qassimi. "We bled the brakes at service and they were better for stages four and five. We bled them again before stage six and went really well in that last test. We showed good confidence in the car and considering the tough morning we had, it's a good result. Hopefully we can try to push some more tomorrow, although some of the roads will be new to me."

News from other Ford teams
Stobart drivers Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud lie sixth in their Focus RS WRC after a problem-free day. However, they did receive a shock on the penultimate test when their car's bonnet opened and eventually broke away from its mountings totally. Team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin lie ninth in a similar car. They dropped time this morning when the hydraulic pipe split, allowing the fluid to leak out and leaving Wilson with no paddle shift gearchange or functioning centre differential. Munchi's Federico Villagra and Jorge Perez Companc had difficulties with their car's launch control this morning and then retired from the leg on stage four with a transmission problem.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second leg is based further inland in the Sassari region and is the longest of the rally. After starting at 06.30, drivers tackle two identical loops of three stages, split by a return to Olbia for service at lunchtime. Drivers return to the town for the final overnight halt at 19.15 after 130.74km of competition. The itinerary includes a spectacular jump on the Monte Lerno stage, the final test of each loop, which always provides tremendous action for television cameras and photographers alike.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 24min 14.5sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 24min 54.3sec
3. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 1hr 24min 57.3sec
4. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen Xsara 1hr 25min 00.9sec
5. E Novikov/D Moscatt RUS Citroen C4 1hr 25min 19.2sec
6. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 1hr 25min 22.7sec
7. M Østberg/V Engan NOR Subaru Impreza 1hr 25min 31.1sec
8. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 1hr 25min 51.8sec
9. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 1hr 26min 48.3sec
10 K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 1hr 27min 14.4sec

Bron: M-Sport

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