31 May 08
World Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen says the mechanical problems which affected his car on Saturday morning were caused by driver error.
The Finn lost almost a minute with broken suspension on Friday’s final stage but began Saturday well, setting the fastest time through Aghii Theodori (SS8) to climb to sixth.
But Hirvonen dropped 30 seconds on the next stage after damaging his car's right-hand rear brakes. He made repairs on the following liaison section but struggled through Aghia Triada, the last of the morning loop of stages, dropping two minutes and slipping to eighth.
Hirvonen was second on the previous rally in Sardinia, and holds a three point lead over defending champion Sebastien Loeb in the 2008 drivers' contest.
"It was my mistake," said 27-year-old Hirvonen. "In a slow corner I slid wide and the car hit a bank. It seemed harmless but the impact broke the rear right brake disc. I isolated the brakes on that corner of the car and started the next stage with just three brakes. But 4km after the start the suspension broke and I finished the stage with virtually no brakes. I think the suspension must have been damaged in the previous stage but I didn't notice anything. It's a tough rally and I won't take any risks now. I'll drive steadily, try to survive and see what happens to those ahead of me.”