M-Sport fight on day 2 in Sweden

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Mikko Hirvonen currently holds fourth place with Elfyn Evans breaking into a points-paying position in tenth.

M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen continued to fight for the top positions during today’s gravel-strewn third day of Rally Sweden. The Finn currently holds fourth place with Elfyn Evans breaking into a points-paying position in tenth.

Locked in an intense battle for the podium, Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen made the most of the difficult conditions – keeping their Ford Fiesta RS WRC well clear of the white barriers and setting a string of competitive stage times.

Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC

Photo by: M-Sport

With some of the most challenging conditions in the event’s long and prestigious history, Hirvonen rose to the challenge and is looking well placed ahead of tomorrow’s finale and longest leg – 142.16 kilometres of what could be the most arduous tests of the week.

Less than 20 seconds adrift of the podium, the Finn’s vast experience of these specialist stages could yet come into play and he’ll be sure to muster all of his expertise and commitment for the final push.

Elsewhere, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt were continuing to gain a wealth of knowledge and experience on their first venture to the snow-covered stages. Growing in confidence, the Welshman continued to improve his times behind the wheel of the Fiesta RS WRC and had the better of his fellow Sweden debutants through a number of tricky speed tests.

Getting to grips with everything from full snow to exposed gravel and ruts, Evans continued to develop his skills as a world class driver. Equalling the time of his more experienced team mate through SS15, the Brit also secured a sixth fastest time and was propelled into a well-deserved points-paying position.

Mikko Hirvonen (4th): “We lost a bit of time catching Robert [Kubica] on SS12. I think we were very unlucky because he managed to get his car on the road literally right in front of me. We must have lost about seven to ten seconds, but these things happen. He stopped on the side of the road after that so I’m sure that it was the same for everyone – everyone will have needed to slow down a bit.

“There was a lot of gravel on the second pass – the roads were almost completely destroyed. Of course there have been some gravel lines in previous years, but I have never seen such deep ruts like this. It’s not perfect conditions and it’s hard on the tyres, but that is just the way it is.

“There is a bit of a gap to Mads [Østberg] now, but I’m not going to let him get away so easily. Tomorrow will be even more tricky than today, and as we’ve already seen, anything can happen. I’ll be there putting the pressure on him, that’s for sure.”

Elfyn Evans (10th): “There is so much gravel on the stages now that you have to really concentrate and think about everything you do. You need to look after the tyres, judge the grip and stay on the line, all whilst driving as quickly as you can – it’s certainly a new experience.

“We tried something a little different through the afternoon stages, but I’m yet to see if that will have any benefit. We’re just taking the time to learn as much as we can and make it to the end of the rally without incident. We’re in a points-paying position now, so if we can hold on to that tomorrow I think it would be a very good result for us.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE: “Mikko [Hirvonen] has put in another solid performance. In fairness, I think we lost a little bit more than we might have liked, but there is still a good distance left to run tomorrow. There’s still a chance to get onto the podium and I’m sure Mikko can put some pressure on the guys in front.

“Elfyn [Evans] too has done exactly what he needed to do today. He’s continued to be sensible, gained good experience and set some really strong sectors given his inexperience of the rally and the conditions. It’s been another solid day for him and it’s great to see his improvement as the day has gone on.”

M-Sport World Rally Team

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About this article
Series WRC
Article type Stage report
Tags elfyn evans, m-sport, mikko hirvonen, rally sweden, wrc

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