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Acropolis victory sees Hirvonen close gap

  • Story Highlights
  • Finland's Mikko Hirvonen completes comfortable victory in the Acropolis Rally
  • Hirvonen finishes clear of Sebastien Ogier with Jari-Matti Latvala in third place
  • The success means Hirvonen moves to within seven points of Sebastien Loeb
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(CNN) -- Finland's Mikko Hirvonen made significant inroads into Sebastien Loeb's World Rally Championship lead after completing a comfortable victory in the Acropolis Rally on Sunday.

Hirvonen claimed his first victory of the season in Greece to close the gap on championship leader Loeb.

Hirvonen claimed his first victory of the season in Greece to close the gap on championship leader Loeb.

The BP Ford team leader came home one minute, 12 seconds clear of surprise second-placed finisher Sebastien Ogier of France, while Hirvonen's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala finished back in third place.

The Citroen C4 of reigning world champion Loeb failed to finish a race for the first time this season after the Frenchman spectacularly crashed out on Friday to end his charge.

Loeb's position at the head of the standings has come under threat following two below-par outings, his retirement in Greece following on the heels of a fourth-placed finish in Italy last time out.

Victory for Latvala in that race had underlined the return to form of Ford, who are now just 15 points behind Citroen in the manufacturers' standings after their 70th WRC win.

The consistent Hirvonen is now just seven points behind after his first win of the season, with his five podium finishes in six races prior to this weekend keeping him in touch with five-time champion Loeb.

"It really looked very difficult for us, but it turned out to be OK in the end," Hirvonen told Press Association Sport.

"It proved a perfect weekend for us and we are back in the game again. We thought before this rally that if you get through without any problems, you're going to be really high up, and we proved the point."

Munchi Ford driver Federico Villagra benefited from the demise of some of his rivals to claim an impressive fourth, while Conrad Rautenbach completed a solid weekend's work for the Citroen Junior team with fifth position.

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