BP FORD ABU DHABI ONE-TWO AT HALF-WAY POINT IN POLAND Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers holding steady in Fiesta Sporting Trophy Poland, 27 June 2009: BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team maintains its impressive lead across the challenging gravel routes of the ...
BP FORD ABU DHABI ONE-TWO AT HALF-WAY POINT IN POLAND
Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers holding steady in Fiesta Sporting Trophy
Poland, 27 June 2009: BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team maintains its impressive lead across the challenging gravel routes of the Msaurian Lake District in the Rally Poland round of the World Rally Championship (WRC). Finnish drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala built a powerful lead by midday Saturday, and are in pole position for points. Following Friday's surprise departure of reigning champion Sebastian Loeb, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team lead at the half way point. "I want 10 points from here and after Loeb's accident I must think about the championship now. We must take full advantage of this situation over the next two days" said Hirvonen.
The Abu Dhabi-backed team used its perfect positioning and a groundswell of support from thousands of fans to maintain its lead over the chasing pack. Both drivers pushed hard, but remained careful, across the fast eighth and ninth stages, with Latvala continuing to hold his second placing rather than challenge his teammate for first. No-one at Ford wants to risk jeopardising the maximum points haul that is within the team's grasp.
"Polish fortune is so far smiling on the BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team," said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, which is behind the team initiative. "However, knowing Mikko and Jari-Matti well, I know they will recognise there is a long way to go and having seen what happened to Loeb they will are certainly not be overconfident. The continued team success is a great boost for Abu Dhabi and I know the whole emirate is behind them. It is really gratifying to know that one of the world's newest international tourism destinations is winning such strong spectator support at the world's second oldest rally".
Bad weather conditions earlier in the week haven't proved a problem for the WRC cars, but elsewhere in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy international (FSTi) the Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers were experiencing difficulties in yesterday's later stages. Rain softened the track considerably grounding some cars and delaying the drivers behind. However Abu Dhabi Juniors Majed Al Shamsi and Bader Al Jabri seized the opportunity to give solid and focused performances and push themselves up the classifications, while other drivers struggled. The two young Emirati aces have continued to control their cars on the difficult surfaces and have moved up impressively to second and third.
Al Shamsi said though the going was tough, the experience was valuable, "The first few stages were fast, the conditions were better than expected, but after that they became tough. The WRC cars that had been out on course ahead of us had made parts of the track very deep and it was causing cars to get stuck. Luckily I was able to stay out of trouble and I hope to use the experiences to continue to push harder today".
Al Mansoori comes back into the FSTi today within the 'Super Rally' following his power steering failure in stage four, and will use the rally to gain experience on the varying surfaces and fast course, as practice for next month's Rally Finland.
The Abu Dhabi Rally Programme is an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) which is one of the title sponsors of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Official Destination partner of the World Rally Championship, and creator of the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Development Programme.