The 32-year-old Finn will be expected to capitalise on his 13-round programme -compared to Sebastien Loeb’s four-event campaign - by pushing to become world champion for the first time having finished runner-up to Loeb on four previous occasions, including in 2012.
Speaking at the launch of the new-look Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in the Middle East yesterday, Hirvonen said: “It gives maybe a little bit more responsibility [being nominated to score manufacturers’ points on all 13 rounds] but the team is absolutely fantastic, it has a lot of experience.
“In a way I’m still quite happy Sebastien is doing a few rallies and maybe he can still be part of the testing as well. Also [my new team-mate] Dani [Sordo] is familiar with the team so I don’t feel like I have all the pressure on my shoulders and I’m not a lone in the team. I’m sure we all work together like this year, we were really strong as a whole team and I’m sure we can do the same next year.”
Of his aim for the 2013 season, which gets underway on Rallye Monte-Carlo next month, Hirvonen said: “Now that I have my first season with Citroen under my belt, I feel ready for this new challenge. I have been world championship runner-up four times, so the next logical step is to aim for first place.”
Did you know? Hirvonen would become Finland’s seventh different world champion rally driver if he triumphed in 2013.