Rally drivers put on the spot in football shoot-out
If Sunday's World Cup football final between Holland and Spain ends in a penalty shoot-out, then Ford's sharp-shooting rally drivers could be the men to call on – or perhaps not!
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team's drivers and co-drivers took time out from their preparations for Rally Bulgaria to take on several other teams in a fun penalty competition at the rally base in the ski resort of Borovets.
Drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala were joined by co-drivers Jarmo Lehtinen and Miikka Anttila and Ford's European motorsport chief Gerard Quinn. They took on a number of other teams, including the drivers and co-drivers from the Stobart M-Sport Ford squad – Matthew Wilson, P-G Andersson, Scott Martin and Jonas Andersson – and M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson.
However, their precision behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car was not matched by their shooting skills in front of goal on the soccer pitch at the Yastrebets Hotel. After scoring with all five penalties in the opening round, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi squad added only one more in the second and third rounds to finish equal fourth.
Their colleagues from the Stobart M-Sport Ford team fared better, netting nine of their 15 spot kicks to finish third. However, neither could match a team from FIA World Rally Championship promoter, North One Sport, which was victorious with 11 goals from their 15 penalties.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director and M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson showed his drivers how to take penalties. He netted all three of his kicks!
"After we scored five out of five in the first round, I thought we would win easily," said BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team captain Mikko Hirvonen. "From our next 10 penalties, only Jari-Matti scored. And we can't even blame the ball – it was a Castrol football and not the type that is being used in the World Cup! I'm sure we'll do better in the rally than we have in the football."
Rally Bulgaria, round seven of the WRC, starts tonight (Thursday) and finishes in Borovets on Sunday afternoon after three days of flat-out asphalt driving, covering more than 354km.