Hirvonen wins in Japan as BP–Ford maintains double title bid
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen strengthened BP–Ford World Rally Team’s world championship title challenge by winning Rally Japan today in a Focus RS World Rally Car.

Victory by 37.4sec stretched BP–Ford’s lead in the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ standings to 34 points – with a maximum 36 available from the final two rounds in Ireland and Great Britain.

BP–Ford team–mates Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen retained a four–point lead in the drivers’ championship despite crashing on the opening morning of the three–day rally and retiring. Title rival Sebastien Loeb also crashed on the second day and neither driver scored.

Four Focus RS cars finished in the top five positions.

Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud from the privately–run Stobart VK M–Sport squad and team–mates Matthew Wilson and Michael Orr were third and fourth respectively. Privately–entered Munchi’s Ford drivers Luis Perez Companc and Jose–Maria Volta were fifth.

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