2014 Highlights: Kubica's Monte
Robert Kubica’s racing start to Rallye Monte-Carlo
Before the rally, Hirvonen announced that Rally GB would be his final appearance in the WRC, and he was retiring after a 13 year career that had netted him 15 wins and 68 podiums.
Hirvonen said he wanted to bow out from the top, and so it proved in Wales where he enjoyed an epic podium battle that entertained the crowds throughout all three days.
He began Sunday’s final leg in second place, just 3.4sec ahead of a hard-charging Kris Meeke. But his desire to end his career with a podium left him unsure whether to attack to retain the place, or throttle back to guarantee third.
The Finn chose the former and after Meeke went off the road in Sunday’s opening stage, an incident which caused tyre issues later in the morning, Hirvonen claimed an emotional runners-up spot in his Ford Fiesta RS - matching his best result of the season.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I really wanted to fight for second place but I also wanted to finish on the podium as well. It was a bit tricky in the morning, especially after service when we said our goodbyes to all the guys in the team. I didn’t feel too emotional but I couldn’t concentrate and get my head around what I was supposed to do. I didn’t have the best rhythm and feeling for the first stages but finally it all went okay”
“There couldn’t really have been a better end than to have a fight like that in my last rally. That’s the best thing about the sport, when you face all the difficult conditions and fight over seconds with other drivers. I’m so happy how my weekend went,” he added.
Watch Hirvonen’s finale - and hear from some of his friends in the WRC - in our video special below: