14 Jun 08
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team boss Malcolm Wilson says his priority for Rally Turkey is a maximum 18 point haul in the 2008 Manufacturers’ championship battle.
The Ford team won the manufacturers’ title in 2006 and 2007 and leads this year’s series by two points from the Citroen Total team. If the top ten stays as it was after SS13, Ford would take an 11 point lead into the summer break and be well placed to fight for a third consecutive title.
But with 36km of stages remaining on Sunday, Wilson also has the option of holding back one, or both, of his two drivers to give them, potentially, a better road position on the final day. After SS13, however, Wilson said he was happy with their present order.
“I’m not dismissing any tactics at the minute, all I’ll say is the positions are looking okay for now,” said Wilson. “To be honest we want to get 18 points from here for the Manufacturers’ Championship; that’s the key for us in the second half of the season because we know it’s going to be difficult on the asphalt against Sebastien and Dani. If we can get 18 points in Turkey we’ll be very happy, and that will make the drivers happy I would think.”
Rally leader Hirvonen said unless he could find a lot more time on Saturday's remaining stages he would lose his lead to Latvala on Sunday. “An overnight lead of 50 seconds would be comfortable but if we finish like this - and Latvala’s second on the road - he’ll pass me, for sure,” said Mikko.
But Hirvonen admitted that his personal championship fight with Loeb was more important than the battle for victory in Turkey. “If Latvala beats me then so be it,” he said. “The main thing for me is to stay in front of Sebastien and take the championship lead. Of course it would be nice to win here. But if I can lead the championship again, that’s the most important thing for me.”
Wilson refused to rule out a final stage strategy which would help Hirvonen win Turkey tomorrow, but said it wasn’t the most important consideration. “Okay, we’re never won the drivers championship before, but the priority is the 18 points for Ford.” he said.