15 Aug 08
After promising he’d battle hard on SS5, Mikko Hirvonen was true to his word and edged past Dani Sordo into second place overall.
Hirvonen completed the 23km test just one-tenth of a second slower than stage winner Sebastien Loeb - the closest anyone had got to Loeb’s pace on the rally so far.
“I’m having so much fun and pushing as hard as I can,” beamed Hirvonen at the stage end. “Everything has been working well, but that was a big push!”
Even Loeb was impressed by Hirvonen’s achievement. “I think the Finns have learned to drive on tarmac,” he said, “because that’s an impressive time and I can’t go much faster. It’s okay though; it’s an interesting fight just like it was in Finland.”
Third on the stage but slipping to third overall, Dani Sordo said a slippery road surface hadn’t helped him. “There was a lot of gravel on the hairpins and I didn’t have a good time,” he said. “The tyres didn’t work to well here, but we’ll see how we do on the next stage.”
The stage was stopped after the passage of 12 WRC cars, following an accident involving Stobart VK M-Sport driver Gigi Galli. The Italian crashed his Ford Focus RS WRC off the road on a high speed section 12km from the start.
The stage was stopped soon after to enable rescue vehicles to reach the scene. Galli received medical treatment in his car and was later airlifted to hospital in Trier for checks. The Stobart team says he is not seriously injured. Co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini was driven to hospital for precautionary checks.