The Finn has come close to winning the drivers’ World Championship title on four occasions since 2008. But every time he has had to settle for runner-up to the all-conquering Sebastien.
This year, however, in his second season at Citroen, and with Loeb bowing out, Hirvonen’s chances of a maiden WRC victory look better than ever. At least they did until Sebastien Ogier fired up his Polo. Sebastiens, eh?
Still, with just three rounds done, Hirvonen remains a true title contender and with the DS3 at his command, he has the tools to get the job done.
To help us find out what makes him tick, Hirvonen grabbed a biro and completed the 2013 season wrc.com driver questionnaire. Want to know what he’s playing on his ipod? Then read on…
What do you do in the last 30 seconds before you start a stage?
“With 30 seconds to go I usually start to count down in my mind along with the clock. Maybe I'll tighten the belts one more time. At 15 seconds I make the final checks, turn the boost on, check the handbrake and select first gear. Then we are ready to go.”
Apart from your co-driver, who is the most important member of your team?
“Everybody is important. Everybody has a special job they have to do perfectly to give us a chance to fight for the win. But of course my engineer is important. With him I talk after every stage and if I´m not so happy with my performance or the car's, we try to find solutions to go faster on the next one.”
Are you superstitious? If so, do you carry anything lucky in your car?
"No, I´m not like that. I don´t have anything special."
What is your favourite stage in the WRC and why?
“In all the rallies there are some stages that you like more than others, but [Rally Finland's] Ouninpohja will always be above them all. It´s just so crazy, fast, flowing and intense all the time. It just doesn´t get any better than that.”
What is the most difficult stage in the WRC and why?
"I can't think of any one in particular, but when the conditions change a lot during the stage then any of them can get really tricky."
What has been the best moment of your WRC career so far?
“My first win in Australia 2006 was really special. After all those years working for it, it finally happened. That was a really special moment. And of course my Rally Finland win in Jyvaskyla. Home country, home city all the family and friends there. That was a special moment as well.”
If you weren’t competing in the WRC, which WRC driver would you like to be?
“I don´t know who, but when rallying changed from rear wheel drive Escorts to Group B cars it would have been an interesting time to be involved.”
What has been the most frightening moment of your career so far?
"When I went off at the 2003 Monte Carlo. The speed was only about 30kph or something, but we were on slicks on an icy downhill section. We went through a snowbank and I couldn´t see anything but I knew we were falling. There was silence in the car and we were falling but I couldn’t see how far we were going to go… It was scary. Luckily it was not such a long drop in the end.”
What is your all time number one pop song and why?
“Pop song? I don´t know. I like rock music. I'm a big fan, actually. There are many good bands and songs but my favourites include AC/DC, Danko Jones, Limbizkit, Airbourne and too many others to mention.”
What was the best birthday present you have ever received?
“When my son was old enough to make something himself. He was five and he made me a wooden sword. I loved it and have it on my wall in my office.”
What would you do if you weren’t a World Rally Championship driver?
“It´s the only thing I ever wanted to do. I made it, so I haven´t thought about what else I could do!”