Mikko Wins final Rally Australia, Perth

Mikko Wins final Rally Australia, PerthFrom Adrian Kirk-Burnnand [ 29/10/2006 ].
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Finland's Mikko Hirvonen took a confident first win on the final Rally Australia in Perth. With a strong lead through days 2 and 3 he never really faltered, nor could second place Petter Solberg catch him. Third place went to Peugeot 307 driver Manfred Stohl who was delighted to be on the podium again. Rally Australia has been a happy hunting ground for him. Group N results shifted somewhat again on the final day. Toshihiro Arai did not restart after suspension damage yesterday and Marcos Ligato dropped out of contention during the day. The lead was handed to Jari-Matti Latvala while Group N outright meant sixth outright in the rally after Marcus Gronholm clawed his way back to fifth after his leg 1 roll-over.

Weather conditions on the final day were dry and bright all day, with some hazy cloud. The temperature ranged between 17 and 24 degrees Celsius - much cooler than previous days.

 

Baldacci claimed the 2nd step on the podium in Group N while West Australia's own Dean Herridge completed the podium in third, after driving the final fast stages without fourth gear.

Fourth in the overall standing was Sebastien Loeb's replacement, Xavier Pons.

The win for Mikko is not only his first win, but surprisingly the win is also Ford's first Australian win - after so many years. Malcolm Wilson finally conquered down under.

Mikko Hirvonen: Please check back for a quote.

Petter Solberg: “I am very, very happy to get second place. It’s been a really tough season and the team has been working so hard for this, day and night. We’re still going to keep pushing on the car, as there’s still more to do, but today I am really pleased for all the team and mechanics as it’s a big boost for everyone.”

Further news and quotes to follow.

The next event in the championship is accross Australia and accross the Tasman. Friday November 17th three weeks away, will Loeb be back. We should find that out soon. Ford only need to claim 3 points to clinch the manufacturers title so the competition will be fierce.

© 2006 International Sportsworld Communications Limited