Ford's hopes of a much-needed victory on Rally Finland have taken a hit on the opening stage, with an engine problem leading to a trip off the road for Mikko Hirvonen.
Hirvonen lost 37.9sec to fastest man Jari Ketomaa on the opening Lankamaa stage this evening. He continues in the event, with damage to the rear suspension and brakes on his Fiesta RS WRC.
"I turned into a left-hander and the engine just died," said Hirvonen. "I didn't have any drive at all, I lost the brakes and the steering and we hit the tree."
Hirvonen, who has not won a gravel round of the World Rally Championship since Rally Australia in 2009, had high hopes of repeating his home win of the same year. Now, however, he will lose more time with just over 10 miles of competition remaining this evening.
Hirvonen's teammate Jari-Matti Latvala is third after SS1, with Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb second and fourth in their Citroens.
Ketomaa is driving a Fiesta RS WRC as a one-off on his home round of the series and, along with Mini privateer Matti Rantanen, had been tipped as a potential podium finisher. Rantanen is fastest of the Minis, through, posting the sixth-fastest time.