14 Jun 08
The last mountain stage of the day - and the one which determined Sunday’s road order - passed off without any of the tactical driving which had been a feature of Friday’s final test.
And with only the short Superspecial remaining today it looks like Mikko Hirvonen will carry a lead of about 15 seconds into Sunday’s final day of the Rally of Turkey.
Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb set exactly the same fastest time through the stage, meaning Loeb will start Sunday around 36sec adrift of Hirvonen.
Earlier in the day Hirvonen had said that a lead of 50 seconds was necessary to counteract the expected road cleaning disadvantage of running first on the road on Sunday. But instead the BP Ford team leader will have to contend with the challenge of a hard-chasing Loeb, and his own Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who is second.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a big fight tomorrow,” Hirvonen acknowledged at the stage end. “I’ve been flat out all day, but I don’t know if my lead is enough. Sunday’s going to be a difficult day.”
Loeb said that after enduring two days as road sweeper, he was looking forward to a better start position and an epic battle for the lead on Sunday: “I’ve done everything I can so far; I’ve made no mistakes, the car has had no problems, and we’ve been flat-out all the time. Everything is possible tomorrow I think. It’s going to be a lot of fun!” he said.
Latvala was also looking forward to the fight for victory over the remaining 30 competitive kilometers; although he was disappointed to lose time to Loeb on SS15. “That wasn’t part of the plan,” he said. “But okay, I said earlier that I wanted to stay second place, and here we are. I can’t wait until tomorrow; it’s going to be very interesting!”