Hirvonen joined the Citroen Total World Rally Team from the rival Ford World Rally Team for 2012 as number two to Sebastien Loeb, the eight-time WRC title-winner.
After finishing runner-up to Loeb in New Zealand on Sunday, Hirvonen said: “This is another good result for the team; it concludes the first part of the season, during which I have learned a lot. I am pleased with how the first seven rallies have gone. I have been fighting for the win a regular basis, and that feels good.”
Hirvonen’s second place on the Auckland-based round also marks an upturn in form after he struggled for speed on the Acropolis Rally, the previous round of the world championship in Greece last month.
“The pace was good here after Greece and it’s good to learn why these things happen because it means you are going in the right direction,” he said. “I now have a fine collection of runner-up spots, so I’ll be going into the second half of the season hoping to claim some wins.”