13 Jun 08
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team driver Mikko Hirvonen has won Rally Turkey after a nail-biting finale that went right to the end of the final stage.
Hirvonen successfully defended his overnight rally lead, fending off enormous pressure on the final 31km Olympos stage from his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, and Citroen Total driver Sebastien Loeb.
A maximum 10 driver points for Mikko moves the Finn back into the lead of the 2008 championship, with a margin of three points over the man in second place, Sebastien Loeb.
“It’s fantastic!” said Hirvonen at the finish line. “But that was close!. My front tyres are finished and I had a puncture for the last few kilometres - I wasn’t sure I’d done enough!”
Latvala brought his Focus RS over the line in second, making a perfect one, two for Ford, and widening the team’s lead in the manufacturers’ competition.
“It’s been an unbelievable fight,” said Latvala as he congratulated Hirvonen. “I couldn’t have driven any better but in the end it wasn’t enough. It’s been a great fight and the final result is excellent for the team - and the sport.”
Latvala also owned up to a driving error on the penultimate stage. “I misjudged my braking on a downhill corner on SS18. I went wide and it cost me a few seconds,” he said.
Sebastien Loeb took the final podium place, the Frenchman saying his charge on the final stage was ended by tyre wear. “I tried hard, had a really good start, but like everybody we destroyed the tyres,” he said. “So I decided to go slowly to avoid a puncture. I will be back, though. We cannot win every time. Better a third place than a retirement!”