26 Jan 08
Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson doesn't think his 2007 lead driver Marcus Gronholm would have bettered Mikko Hirvonen's performance on this year's Rally Monte Carlo.
Speculating on how Gronholm might have fared on this year's event Wilson said: "I think Mikko and Marcus would be very similar. Marcus was third here last year, so if you look at the overall results after Dani's retirement we're almost in the same position - but Mikko is a lot closer to Sebastien this time around."
In service after SS11, the M-sport boss said that he was very happy with Hirvonen's performance on the event so far. "Apart from the last four of five kilometres of Stage two on Thursday evening, Mikko has driven a superb rally and has he's stepped up to the position of team leader in great style. We always knew that Sebastien and Dani were going to be the favourites for this event, but this time Mikko is closer to Sebastien than he's ever been before. He was fighting for fifth with Chris Atkinson last year so there's been big progress by Mikko and I'm really encouraged by the performance of the car as well.
The fact that Loeb has such a commanding rally lead isn't giving Wilson cause for concern about the rest of the year. "Sebastien is one guy who has dominated tarmac rallies for the last five years. Nobody has come anywhere near him. For Mikko to be doing what he's doing at this point in his career, and with another six months before the next tarmac event, is very impressive. If you ask Mikko, this isn't his favourite surface or his favourite event, so if he can hang on to where he is now it'll be a good start for the team and I'll be very happy."