Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
AD200810201794860AR
AD200810201794860AR
AD200810201794860AR

Double blow for Ford

The BP-Ford Abu Dhabi suffered an agonising end to the Rally of New Zealand today as mechanical problems cost both their drivers the chance of a win.

The BP-Ford Abu Dhabi suffered an agonising end to the Rally of New Zealand today as mechanical problems cost both their drivers the chance of a win. A puncture on the penultimate stage wrecked Mikko Hirvonen's hopes, leaving him to finish third, while teammate Jari-Matti Latvala was forced to retire with radiator damage on the same stage. These incidents gifted victory to the championship leader Sebastien Loeb, who extended his points lead to eight over Hirvonen. A disappointed Hirvonen said: "This is one of the biggest disappointments of my career but that's the way sport goes. "I was confident I could drive at normal pace through that stage and win but it was not to be because we handed Loeb victory. It is not looking so good for either championship now, but it is not impossible. "An eight-point gap in the drivers' standings will be difficult to make up and it's annoying to end like this after a great weekend. But I finished on the podium and what does not kill you, makes you stronger." A disappointed Latvala said: "I'm disappointed because I lost points for myself and the team. I was going so well and was pleased with my driving here so I thought I could finish second." Latvala had started leg three of the rally in third place after Hirvonen and Loeb had deliberately slowed down, conceding the lead on Saturday to avoid starting first on the loose gravel for the decisive final stages. Loeb had hoped to use his road position of starting behind both Ford drivers to his advantage before a spin on stage 12 appeared to have put paid to his hopes of challenging for victory. But on the 17th stage, Hirvonen, who had leapfrogged Latvala to lead the rally, lost around a minute after suffering a puncture and spin while Latvala retired at the same time, allowing Loeb through for an unexpected victory. The Frenchman finished 17.5 seconds ahead of his Citroen teammate Dani Sordo, and admitted to his good fortune. "This morning I had the spin and just was not able to make up the gap to Mikko - I thought it was over and we had lost the chance," Loeb said. "But then it all changed and we were leading again. But this was really a difficult rally, changing all the time, with some strategy coming in too. "I needed to win for sure, and that's very nice, but I'm not happy for what happened to Mikko because he was doing really well and it was a good battle. "But it's a race and these things happen sometimes." There are only four rallies left of the season, and the next event is in Spain, beginning on Thursday Oct 2.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Seiichi Shimomura, centre, is part of a Japan squad that is the gold standard for sides such as the UAE, here in a Asian Five Nations rugby match at Dubai on May 10, 2013 and Singapore aspire to reach. Marwan Naamani / AFP

UAE and Singapore are rugby teams with a similar tale to tell

The UAE versus Singapore in rugby: a battle to see whether our expatriates are better than their expatriates, surely? Well, maybe not for much longer.

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 Sharjah Cricket Stadium's colorful past was never like this – the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils was loud, raucous and commerical. Pawan Singh / The National

No need for rose-coloured glasses when Sharjah Cricket Stadium host IPL

Sharjah still plays well as India's home away from home when it comes to big-time cricket, but the commercial overtones were in overdrive.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

 Mickael Barzalona riding Sudden Wonder, left, to victory in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy at Newmarket racecourse on April 17, 2014 in Newmarket, England. Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images

Godolphin boosted by performances of two fresh horses at Newmarket

Be Ready underwhelms in Craven Stakes during otherwise successful day for stables

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National