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||M-Sport World Rally Team
Lehtinen has guided Mikko Hirvonen since Rally GB in 2002. They’ve enjoyed a close and successful relationship ever since, with stints at Ford, Subaru, Citroen and, in 2014, Ford again.
Lehtinen is 11 years Hirvonen’s senior and his unflappable temperament makes him the perfect foil to his younger countryman who went from raw beginner to an accomplished professional under Lehtinen’s stewardship.
The pair got their WRC break in 2003, when a season in a privateer Ford Focus WRC earned them a place at the factory Subaru squad for 2004. Released after a disappointing year, their subsequent signing to Ford in 2005 proved far more fruitful. Over the next seven seasons Lehtinen guided Hirvonen to 14 rally wins and the runner up position in the drivers title three times.
A switch to Citroen in 2012 brought one more rally win, and another year as runner up to Loeb in the title race. With only a part-programme for Loeb in 2013, the pair began the season as favourites to take his crown, but when Volkswagen driver Ogier proved equally as dominant, Hirvonen’s form slumped. Back at Ford for 2014, Lehtinen is hoping for a return to the glory days.