Hirvonen closes on first Citroen win

Autosport

Mikko Hirvonen remains in control of Rally d'Italia as the top three drive conservatively in the wake of Friday's drama.

With Sebastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg and Thierry Neuville all crashing on the opening leg, Hirvonen was left with a golden opportunity to take his first World Rally Championship win for Citroen, with a one-minute cushion over M-Sport's Evgeny Novikov.

As Novikov holds a similar margin over his team-mate Ott Tanak, the leading trio all began Saturday focusing on taking it very carefully - although Novikov still managed a stage win.

Fourth-placed Sebastien Ogier struggled to sustain his Friday giantkilling form in Volkswagen's Super 2000 Skoda as the delayed World Rally Cars picked up pace and the Frenchman's gearbox choice proved incorrect.

Ogier is now just 3.3s ahead of Chris Atkinson's Mini, and both are being caught by Mads Ostberg, whose sights are set on getting back to fourth place by Sunday.

The Adapta Ford was fastest on two of the morning's three stages, quickly claimed sixth from Andreas Mikkelsen, and has reduced the gap to Atkinson from 51s to 11s since the leg began.

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