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Hirvonen wins Rally Finland


Ford's Mikko Hirvonen managed to fend off defending champ Sebastein Loeb in Finland overnight, to extend his overall championship lead

The 29-year-old Finn completed the 23 special stage, 347.2 kilometres track in 2 hours, 50 minutes, 40.9 seconds.

Loeb, the defending world champion from France, was 25.1 seconds behind in his Citroen. Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland was third, with Daniel Sordo of Spain in fourth.

Hirvonen entered the day with a 32-second lead, and extended it by 3.5 seconds on the first 10.8-kilometre stage to secure his third straight win this season.

"All the time we were able to win some seconds on Loeb," said Hirvonen, who won his first rally on home soil. "Since a small boy I have read the list of legends who have won here, and now we have a victory in our pocket too. Great to be an extension to that list. This is the rally all Finnish drivers want to win the most."

Hirvonen now has 68 points at the top of the standings, with Loeb at 65.

"It is a long way to the title still, there are difficult events left," Hirvonen said.

The series will finish with events in Australia in September, followed by Spain and Wales in October.

Hirvonen won 10 of the 23 special stages, Loeb seven, Latvala five and promising Frenchman Sebastien Ogier had one stage win.

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