26 Apr 08
Some shrewd, strategic driving from Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala on SS16 has handed Dani Sordo the dubious honour of running first through the stages on the rally’s final day.
With Sunday’s start order based on the positions after day two, Sordo had done his best to drop behind the two Fords over the final four stages so he wouldn’t have to play road sweeper over Sunday’s final 134km.
But although the Citroen driver started the final stage 11 seconds off the lead, Latvala and Hirvonen held the advantage of following him though and were able to adjust their pace via split times to hand the lead back again.
So, in a textbook tactical move, shortly after Sordo completed the stage in a time of 6m 44.1s, Latvala slowed his Ford Focus and lost almost 20 seconds - dropping behind the Spaniard on the overall leaderboard. Straight after that Hirvonen also slowed to a crawl and lost enough time to slot into third, just behind his team-mate.
Asked at the finish control to explain what had happened, a cheerful Latvala said his car had felt a bit odd after the watersplash near the finish, while Hirvonen said his foot had slipped off the throttle.
A senior team spokesman confirmed that the decision was only taken when Sordo reached the stage finish and his time was relayed to Latvala and Hirvonen. They were then left to decide for themselves how many seconds to wait before finishing the stage to ensure that they would not start first on the road.