M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen are still in the fight at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Despite losing their lead to a resurgent Sebastien Ogier, the Finns hold a strong second place going into tomorrow’s final day.
Consistency was the name of the game, and Hirvonen set the second fastest time on all but one of the day’s six speed tests. Determined to the last, the Finn pushed hard throughout the day on what were well-used soft compound tyres. Despite the disadvantage, Michelin’s rubber held up to the challenge, and the popular Finn edged out close to a 50 second advantage over third-placed man Mads Østberg.
With just 38.1 seconds separating Hirvonen from the top-step of the podium, the Finn will be ready to pounce should any drama arise. With 43.87 kilometres of tricky stages left to run, there remains all to play for and the M-Sport man will be keen to bring his Ford Fiesta RS WRC home for what looks set to be a season-best result.
Mikko (2nd) said:
“I used all my soft tyres yesterday so we had to go with used tyres today. It was still the right choice and we made up a lot of time on Mads [Østberg], but Sebastien [Ogier] just ran off into the distance and there was nothing we could do to catch him.
“Even if we give it all that we’ve got tomorrow, we’re not going to catch Sebastien on pace alone. I just hope that we can show the same good pace that we had today – secure this second place and maybe steal a few points from the Power Stage too.”