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WRC Rally: Ford takes championship lead with victory in Jordan

05-05-2008 04:44 PM CET | Sports

Press release from: Castrol UK and Ireland

/ PR Agency: Dildizayn
Rally Jordan:Hirvonen and Lehtinen celebrate after victory in Jordan

Rally Jordan:Hirvonen and Lehtinen celebrate after victory in Jordan

Mikko Hirvonen regained the WRC lead after a superb tactical victory on the first ever Jordan Rally while team mate Jari-Matti Latvala finished seventh.Dani Sordo finished second ahead of Chris Atkinson while Sebastien Loeb's run at the head of the leaderboard ended on Saturday with a head-on collision with team mate Conrad Rautenbach between stages.

With air temperatures in the 40s and with a uniquely slippery road surface, stamina and tactics were always going to play a major part in the outcome. Latvala explained: "The roads are as hard as asphalt so the tyres are spinning because they don't break the surface."

Latvala ended the opening day third, one place ahead of Hirvonen. "My pace notes were too optimistic and I had the biggest scare ever when I spun over a crest and damaged the suspension on a rock. I had to drive carefully until I could get back to service."

Saturday's final stage witnessed a tactical masterstroke by the Castrol Ford team to set up a thrilling last day. With three stage wins in the morning, Latvala was now leading the event from Hirvonen and facing the prospect of sweeping the roads for the hard-charging Sordo. In a pre-planned move the two Ford drivers handed Sordo the poisoned chalice of the rally lead.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi boss Malcolm Wilson explained the team's tactics. "We monitored Sordo's split times and it was down to Jari-Matti and Mikko to implement the strategy that we discussed before the event which was to run second and third on the road for the final day."

Despite overnight rain that dampened down the surface, the tactics worked and Sordo had no answer to Hirvonen who turned a 10.4s deficit into a 1m 15.7s winning margin over the final day. "It's fantastic! And very good news for our title fight ahead of Sardinia next month," said Hirvonen. "The last stage was so nerve racking as I had no split times to tell me how fast on Dani was going."

Latvala dropped to eighth after breaking his rear suspension in Sunday's second. At service the mechanics did an impressive job to replace the gearbox, rear differential and rear suspension before Latvala climbed to seventh during the final loop.

The next event is Rally Italia from May 18

Rally Jordan top six finishers

* 1. Hirvonen/Lehtinen (Ford)
* 2. Sordo/Marti (Citroen)
* 3. Atkinson/Prevot (Subaru)
* 4. H Solberg/Menkerund (Ford)
* 5. Wilson/Martin (Ford)
* 6. Villagra/ Perez Companc (Ford)

Team News : Latvala praises new events

Castrol-Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala is enjoying the recent run of new events coming into the WRC as it suiting his inexperience at the premier level. "Everyone is in the same situation so I'm not at a disadvantage against more experienced drivers," he said. "We have to take more care with pace notes on new events and I always video the stages so it's like a third pass over them when I watch it back. Last year Latvala took top 10 places on all three new events in Norway, Portugal and Ireland.

Race News: End to three-day rallies in sight

FIA World Rally Championship Commission is considering scrapping the current three-day format for events and allowing rallies to run over two, three or four days. "Providing they keep the stage mileage at the current level we see no reason why events can't have more freedom to use their facilities in better ways," said Commission President Morrie Chandler. "Some events have suffered by having to conform to a format that doesn't fit the local geography."

For more information on the Castrol-sponsored Ford WRC team please visit the Racing and Sponsorship section of our homepage:

For more information on Castrol's sponsorship activities related to sports please visit:

Motor Oil and Lubricants Castrol UK and Ireland
Castrol UK Ltd, Wakefield House, Pipers Way, Swindon
SN3 1RE United Kingdom
Press contact: Caroline Topping
Phone: +44 (1793) 452781

Castrol is the world's leading specialist provider of lubricant products. Most people know Castrol oil for vehicles such as car oil, engine oil and synthetic oil as well as motorcycle oil. But there's not just Castrol motor oil, we also produce lubricants for vehicles in transport and construction industries, such as heavy goods vehicles, buses and earth moving machinery. Castrol UK feature the brands EDGE, Magnatec, GTX, SLX Professional, Elixion, Enduron and Tection among others.

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