KEMER, Turkey (AFP) — Ford played a tactical game of cat and mouse at the Rally of Turkey here on Friday to ensure its top drivers start Saturday's stage with better road positions.
Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala on Friday both controlled the pace in the final special stage to drop behind world champion Sebastien Loeb, who finished first in 2hr 02min 35 sec.
The result means the Frenchman, who leads the overall drivers' standings, will start Saturday's stage in front in his Citroen as the race heads into day two on the tricky mountainous roads near the resort of Kemer.
"I'm happy with the way it worked out. It feels strange to lose the time but that's okay," said Hirvonen who is one of four Ford drivers bunched behind Loeb.
"For tomorrow's stages I should have an ideal road position now and because I'm running later I'm better able to control the situation."
Next up was Jari-Matti Latvala, who also slowed near the stage end to drop 1.1secs behind Loeb, a position which placed him third overnight with Henning Solberg just ahead of him.
"We took a team decision because we didn't want to be first on the road tomorrow," said Latvala.
"It wasn't easy judging the pace and I had a few moments trying not to drive too fast in there. Sebastien is a very strong driver so I still think it will be a very interesting battle."
Loeb said he was not concerned by the tactics.
"It doesn't worry me, what can I do?" said four-times world champion Loeb.
"In my position I can only drive and wait and see. They are behind and if they want they can see my time and drive strategically. I think they will play a bit, but it doesn't matter."
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