The Finn, quickest by 0.7sec in his Citroen DS3 this morning, unsurprisingly chose to start 13th and last of the top priority drivers to take advantage of the best available road conditions.
Dry, hot weather in the mountains surrounding the rally base of Leon mean tomorrow’s high altitude stages will be covered in slippery loose gravel for the early starters.
As the stones are swept clear, the hard roads become cleaner and faster and those further back in the start order have a distinct advantage.
Hirvonen said: “It's quite easy, I want to be as far back as I can be. Normally here it's really dry and the surface is really hard so road position plays a big role,” he said.
Behind Hirvonen it was a case of follow the leader. Second quickest Evgeny Novikov chose 12th in his Ford Fiesta RS, with third fastest Thierry Neuville opting for 11th in a similar car. All the remaining drivers chose the next lowest position available.
Following the selection process in front of fans in the service park, Ilka Minor was presented with a special plaque to commemorate her 100th WRC start. The Qatar M-Sport World Rally team co-driver, who partners Evgeny Novikov, received the plaque from team director Malcolm Wilson.
The start order for the opening leg is:
1. Michal Kosciuszko
2. Martin Prokop
3. Benito Guerra
4. Ken Block
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah
6. Chris Atkinson
7. Jari-Matti Latvala
8. Dani Sordo
9. Sebastien Ogier
10. Mads Ostberg
11. Thierry Neuville
12. Evgeny Novikov
13. Mikko Hirvonen