Hirvonen leads ahead of misfiring Fiestas
First loop of day 3 is over with no big dramas. Mikko Hirvonen is doing a very good job of keeping everything under control and coping with the demanding stages. Main topic of the day is looking after the tyres, but so far no big dramas or costly punctures for any of the leading crews. Soft tyres were the order of the day, but with fairly dry surface these tyres are showing signs of rapid wear so it will be interesting to see how crews will respond for afternoon loop.
There is however another kind of problem potentially threatening some of the drivers. Few crews reported issues with the engines in their cars and interestingly enough it only affect Fiestas. Evil little conspiracy monger in me immediately drew a picture of Malcolm Wilson pushing big red “Misfire” button in service park, remotely messing with privateer Fiestas in an attempt to push his boys up the ladder.
And speaking of Malcolm Wilson’s boys, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg apparently have a job to do today, as they both said few times in stage end interviews. The job is to salvage as many points as possible, and according to Wilson they should be able to collect quite a few of them. Malcolm predicts Petter will comfortably reach 4th spot while Jari-Matti should be able to climb to the top 10 and take few points as well.
There is also interesting fight going on at the top, but I’m not 100% sure I can call it a fight. With both Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov reporting some engine issues, and with their podium positions safe, I don’t really thing they will try to risk it all. Hirvonen’s lead after SS 13 stands at 47.3 seconds ahead of Ostberg with Novikov further 22.2 seconds behind. Solberg is 9th overall and Latvala 15th.