14 Jun 08
Silyon, Saturday’s first un-swept stage, was one of the two best opportunities for Mikko Hirvonen to capitalise on his fifth-car running position, and the Finn made the most of the chance by winning the stage and leaping into the rally lead.
It also turned out well for fellow Focus RS drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Gigi Galli who also emerged from Friday’s competition with useful road placings and were also able to pass Loeb.
Returning to Kemer for the day's first 30-minute service, Hirvonen’s rally lead stood at 2.9sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in second, and 5.2sec ahead of Gigi Galli in third.
Hirvonen said he was glad to have got the rally lead, but wasn’t able to relax yet. “There’s still a long way to go,” he said. “Yes, we can take some time out of Sebastien, but it’s hard to know if how much is enough. Jari-Matti and Gigi are going well too, so my plan for now is to keep going flat out.”
Latvala was second fastest on the stage but was felt he could have been quicker. “Somehow I screwed up the last 15km,” he said. “I drove quite well at the start, but after that I think I tried to go too fast. I went sideways a lot and lost time.”
Loeb dropped to fourth overall, despite pushing as hard as he could though both tests. “The rally is not finished yet,” he said in service. “Ford’s tactics seem to be working and I expect we will continue to lose some time later today, but we’ll only see the full picture this evening. Personally speaking I can do no more. I’m pushing flat-out and I’ll try to lose as little time as possible.”
The stage proved a tough one for the Suzuki World Rally Team, which lost both its cars in separate incidents at opposite ends of the stage.
Mechanical damage brought Toni Gardemeister’s SX4 to a stop just before the flying finish, while the sister car of Per-Gunnar Andersson stopped with an electrical problem a few hundred metres from the start. The team hopes to get both cars out on Sunday as Superally entries.
Citroen Total team driver Dani Sordo collected a left-hand rear puncture at the 10km mark and lost around 40-seconds over the remaining 17km.