Heading the Subaru challenge in Germany following Petter's retirement in Leg two, Mikko Hirvonen delivered a solid performance aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 to move up the overall leaderboard and finish in eighth position. Today's ...
Heading the Subaru challenge in Germany following Petter's retirement in Leg two, Mikko Hirvonen delivered a solid performance aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 to move up the overall leaderboard and finish in eighth position. Today's spirited performance meant Mikko collected one Drivers' point and three Manufacturers' points for the Subaru team.
SS18: 0720 St Wendeler Land 1 (14.80km)
A classic German asphalt stage featuring long straights and
numerous junctions, the St. Wendeler test was one of the fastest of the
event. Recording an average speed of 114.2kph, Peugeot driver Freddy
Loix was quickest over the dry, but muddy surface as he resumed his
battle with team-mate Cedric Robert for overall fifth. At the finish 7.3
seconds separated the pair. Ford driver Francois Duval was also on a
charge and, having moved past Carlos Sainz on yesterday's final test to
take overall second, he now had his sights on Sebastien Loeb's lead.
Having promised to 'attack' through the final Leg, he finished the test
second fastest and did just that. At the finish he lay 45.1 seconds
behind Loeb with six more stages to run. Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen lost
time when he suffered a stall in his Impreza WRC and then overshot a
junction. He was fourteenth fastest. After the stage was complete crews
moved to the start of SS19.
Fastest Stage Time: Loix (Peugeot) 7:46.3
SS19: Teufelskopf 1 (17.53km)
The first pass through the longest stage of the day gave
Francois Duval an opportunity to make up time on overall leader Loeb and
he charged through, to set the fastest time. However, despite taking 3.3
seconds from the Frenchman, at the finish a gap of 41.8 seconds still
remained. Points nominated Peugeot driver Cedric Robert was second
fastest in his 307, while Loix was 0.8 seconds slower for third. There
was no change to the overall top ten and, after the finish, all the
crews moved directly to the start of SS20.
Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Ford) 11:08.0
SS20: 0830 Birkenfelder Land 1 (13.74km)
Responding to Duval's challenge, event-leader Loeb was 2.8
seconds quicker than his Belgian rival on the short stage from
Birkenfelder, increasing his lead back to 44.6 seconds. With four stages
remaining, the Frenchman was looking good for his third-consecutive
Rallye Deutschland victory. Finishing sixth fastest, Duval was quicker
than third-placed Carlos Sainz to increase his advantage over the
Spaniard to 17.1 seconds. As the early morning fog lifted, Robert was
fastest, with Martin third fastest and Loix fourth. There were no
leading retirements and, after the finish, crews returned to Bostalsee
for a 10-minute tyre and fuel service.
Fastest Stage Time: Robert (Peugeot) 8:04.8
SS21: 0954 St Wendeler Land 2 (14.80km)
Duval drove to the absolute limit on the second pass through St.
Wendeler Land to take the fastest time and claw back 10.3 seconds from
Loeb. At the finish, the overall gap between the duo was down to 34.3
seconds. With 373.55 competitive kilometres of the rally complete, and
with just three more stages and 37.51 kilometres left to run, the event
was set for a tense finale. Loix was third fastest to end the stage 11.2
seconds off Robert's overall fifth position, while Mikko Hirvonen was
ninth fastest. The young Finn's efforts moved him to 8.5 seconds off
overall eighth and a potential Driver Championship points scoring
position. After the finish, crews moved to the start of SS22.
Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Ford) 7:39.9
SS22: 1023 Teufelskopf 2 (17.53km)
Relishing the roads that were similar to those in his home
country of Belgium, Duval was once again fastest on the repeated
Teufelskopf test to take five seconds from rally leader Loeb. However,
the Frenchman remained on the pace and was second fastest to retain a
29.3 second advantage. A good run from Subaru's Hirvonen saw the Finn
finish eighth fastest and move up to take the same position overall,
while Robert was fourth fastest to defend overall fifth from Loix.
Conditions remained dry through the stage, but as mud was pulled onto
the road by cars as they cut corners, some sections became slippery.
After the finish, cars moved to the penultimate stage, SS23.
Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Ford) 10:56.8
SS23: 1104 Birkenfelder Land 2 (13.74km)
As the tension mounted on the penultimate test all eyes were on
Duval as he made his final challenge to snatch Loeb's lead. Running on
medium-hard compound tyres, the Belgian continued to apply pressure to
the Frenchman and was second fastest. But, with Loeb finishing just 1.8
seconds slower than the Ford, it wasn't enough. At the finish, 27.5
seconds remained between the pair with just 6.24km of competitive
distance left to run. Carlos Sainz and Markko Martin were fourth and
seventh fastest respectively to retain their positions in third and
fourth overall, while Mikko Hirvonen was again eighth quickest. After
the finish, crews moved to the start of the final test, SS24
Fastest Stage Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 8:00.2
SS24: 1202 SSS St Wendel 2 (6.24km)
The second, and final, run through the Super Special in the
streets of St. Wendel saw Sebastien Loeb hold his nerve to finish second
fastest, claiming his third consecutive victory at Rallye Deutschland
and taking the ninth WRC win of his career. Duval was fourth fastest to
finish second and match his career-best podium result, set in Mexico
this year, while Sainz was eighth fastest for overall third.
Fastest Stage Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 3:22.4
I am happy to have finished this rally. It's been a challenging event due to the difficult conditions. Following a poor tyre choice this morning, we were pleased to make up time this afternoon, when I was happier with the tyres I selected, giving me both Manufacturers' and Drivers' points. When I'm on the right tyres, my confidence in the car is really good. However, when conditions are poor and I'm not 100 per cent sure on the tyres, I struggle a bit. I have learnt so much about the car on tarmac, driving in wet and slippery conditions and so much more about the Pirelli tyres. It's been very useful. The car was great all weekend and there is not a scratch on it, and from here it is to Japan and we'll be going flat out!
Team Principal, David Lapworth
As we expected, it turned out to be a very tough event. Obviously it's disappointing for Petter to retire, but at least it leaves us with a simple strategy for the next few events - to go out and win. Petter and Phil are both relishing the challenge and with the car's current performance we are very motivated. Technically the event has run very smoothly and Mikko has another world championship event and finish under his belt. The next couple of events shall give him further opportunity to demonstrate the progress of his development programme.
News from Pirelli
, Pirelli Tyres Director of Motorsport
This was a disappointing rally for us, especially because we had every chance of finishing up on the podium. Our tyres worked very well in the extremely wet weather conditions but, at this level, when pushing hard, accidents can happen and the final result did not reflect our potential.