Mikko Hirvonen ( right) and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen at yesterday’s finale.
Mikko Hirvonen ( right) and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen at yesterday’s finale. Trevor Veale

Finns in Ford one-two

MIKKO Hirvonen made it a hat-trick of World Rally Championship victories here in Australia, claiming podium honours to the backdrop of the Coffs coastline.

Gifted the win by fellow Finn and Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who eased off the pace in yesterday's Clarence Valley legs, Hirvonen enjoyed a champagne spray by the ocean with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.

"Australia has really been kind to me, this time round I have to say a big thankyou to my team and also to Jari-Matti for slowing down," Hirvonen said in his acceptance speech.

Adding the win to victories in Rally Australia in 2006 and 2009, Hirvonen scored his first victory in the WRC since his triumph in Rally Sweden in February to end Citroen's success.

Team-mate Latvala commented on the difficulty the drivers faced over the Coffs Coast stages.

He won a total of nine special stages to finish 14.7 seconds behind Hirvonen.

"It's been one tough rally, really tough," Latvala said.

"I think I need to come back here again and win this rally in two years time," he said.

Third place-getter Norwegian privateer Petter Solberg marked his second podium finish of the year.

"I'm very happy because I've been waiting a long time for that," he said.

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