Hirvonen wins Rally of Italy
Olbia - Finland's Mikko Hirvonen finally won the Rally of Italy in Sardinia for the first time on Sunday after finishing runner-up on five occasions.
The Citroen driver took top spot ahead of two Ford Fiesta drivers with Russia's Evgeny Novikov second at 1min 20.6sec and Estonia's Ott Tanak third 2:21.1 off the pace.
"It feels really, really good," said Hirvonen, who secured his first victory this season and first as a Citroen driver, but the 15th of his career.
"This was the goal we had before the rally and finally everything worked well. I've been five times second here and to finally win the rally I'm really pleased with that."
The victory also guarantees 31-year-old Hirvonen second place in the overall drivers' standings behind French team-mate Sebastien Loeb for the fourth time ahead of the final round in Spain next month.
Loeb, who claimed his ninth successive world drivers title on home ground in France a fortnight ago, crashed out of the race during Friday's third special stage.
Norway's Mads Ostberg finished fourth despite winning five stages after his Ford Fiesta suffered a puncture in the the closing Power Stage.
Ostberg moves into third place in the drivers' standing heading to the season finale next month.
Final results from the Rally of Italy in Sardinia after Sunday's two special stages:
1. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Citroen DS3 3hr 23min 54.9sec, 2. Evgeny Novikov (RUS) Ford Fiesta RS at 1min 20.6sec, 3. Ott Tanak (EST) Ford Fiesta RS 2:21.1, 4. Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS 3:42.9, 5. Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Skoda Fabia 2000 4:27.5, 6. Chris Atkinson (AUS) Mini Cooper 5:22.2, 7. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 6:12.5, 8. Martin Prokop (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS 9:29.3, 9. Petter Solberg (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS 9:52.3, 10. Luca Pedersoli (ITA) Citroen DS3 20:35.6
Loeb 1 (SS1), Hirvonen 4 (SS2, SS3, SS4, SS8), Ogier 1 (SS5), Novikov 3 (SS6, SS7, SS10), Ostberg 5 (SS9, SS11, SS12, SS14, SS15), Latvala 1 (SS13), Solberg (SS16)
Power Stage (SS16) standings:
1. Solberg 3 points, 2. Latvala 2 points, 3. Thierry Neuville 1 point