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Hirvonen explains
pace note problem

Mikko Hirvonen has described the problems that he had writing his pace notes at last week’s LOTOS 71st Rally Poland as a “wake up call’.

Like his rivals, the Finn had to prepare almost a completely new set of pace notes for the ultra-fast gravel event as it hadn’t featured on the WRC calendar for five years.

Of the 24 planned stages in Poland and Lithuania, Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen could only carry over information from three of the stages that they drove to victory at the 2009 event.

Hirvonen struggled from the first stage with pace notes that he described as “far too slow” and spent the rest of the event – when he wasn’t in the driving seat – trying to amend the details by reviewing his recce videos.

Hirvonen and Lehtinen recovered to finish fourth after their pace note problems

He and Lehtinen worked until at least 01.30am every night in their hotel to try and put the situation right.

“Somehow I was in the wrong state of mind when I did the recce and the scale was completely off,” Hirvonen explained. “With the days I’ve been in rallying and the experience I have, I shouldn’t have a recce like that. It was a wake up call, definitely.”

Hirvonen’s fortunes eventually improved as the rally progressed and he was able to steer his M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to fourth place at the finish. However, the 33-year-old acknowledged he’d benefited from others’ misfortune along the way.

He said: “We had a lot of help from the other drivers when they had problems and made mistakes but, finally, we’re happy with the result.”

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