The Herald - Herald Sport - - Update -

Ford’s Jari-matti Lat­vala and Pet­ter Sol­berg crashed on con­sec­u­tive stages while lead­ing the Rally of Por­tu­gal yes­ter­day. Lat­vala, the overnight leader went off the road and got stuck in a ditch on stage five as heavy rain and fog made driv­ing treach­er­ous.

As he was un­able to con­tinue, the over­all lead went to Sol­berg, only for the Nor­we­gian to suf­fer a sim­i­lar fate on the next stage. “Pet­ter went off the road on the sec­ond stage and couldn’t get the car back on the road,” said Ford’s spokesman, Mark Wil­ford.

Both driv­ers were ex­pected to be back in ac­tion to­day. Mikko Hir­vo­nen, who moved to Citroen for this sea­son, held a lead of 36.3 sec­onds over the M-sport Ford driver Evgeny Novikov last night af­ter the final three stages were can­celled when the weather con­tin­ued to de­te­ri­o­rate. “It is so slip­pery, so muddy,” the Finn said. “The changes of grip are so sud­den that any­thing is pos­si­ble. I am lead­ing but that doesn’t mean it is easy.”

Hir­vo­nen, who has yet to win for Citroen, could take the lead in the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship af­ter the eight­time world cham­pion Se­bastien Loeb re­tired from the rally on Thurs­day fol­low­ing a crash on the sec­ond stage.

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