Hirvonen stays in charge

2012-10-20 19:52

Olbia - Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, driving a Citroen, maintained his lead in the Rally of Italy in Sardinia on Saturday, finishing the day almost a minute and a half ahead of Russia's Evgeny Novikov in a Ford Fiesta.

Estonia's Ott Tanak, in another Ford, was in third spot, well over two minutes off the pace after 14 of the 16 special stages at the gravel event.

Norway's Mads Ostberg won four of the day's six specials -- SS9, SS11, SS12 and SS14 -- to move up to fourth position in his Ford Fiesta.

"I'm very happy with the day, everything is working well and we've been able to push without doing anything stupid," Ostberg told

Sebastien 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.

The Citroen driver blamed an incorrect pace note for being too fast through the corner where his hopes of a ninth victory in this year's championship went up in smoke.

Sunday's action consists of two runs.

Rally of Italy standings after Saturday's six special stages:

1. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Citroen DS3 3hr 10min 51.7sec, 2. Evgeny Novikov (RUS) Ford Fiesta RS at 1min 28.2sec, 3. Ott Tanak (EST) Ford Fiesta RS 2:20.6, 4. Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS 3:48.3, 5. Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Skoda Fabia 2000 4:30.5, 6. Chris Atkinson (AUS) Mini Cooper 4:34.4, 7. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Skoda Fabia S2000 6:06.2, 8. Martin Prokop (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS 9:18.9, 9. Petter Solberg (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS 10:15.0, 10. Karl Kruuda (EST) Ford Fiesta S2000 10:56.6

Stage winners:

Loeb 1 (SS1), Hirvonen 4 (SS2, SS3, SS4, SS8), Ogier 1 (SS5), Novikov 3 (SS6, SS7, SS10), Ostberg 4 (SS9, SS11, SS12, SS14), Latvala 1 (SS13)