Tuesday | 14 Jan 2014

Getting back on track

Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen believes he has emerged from his mixed two-year spell with Citroen as a more complete driver and hopes his experiences will benefit his new employer, the M-Sport World Rally Team.

The 33-year-old left Malcolm Wilson’s Ford squad at the end of 2011 to become Sebastien Loeb’s new team-mate in the Citroen squad. After a rally-winning 2012 season, Hirvonen’s fortunes dipped in 2013 and he could only finish fourth in the race for the drivers’ title.

Having re-signed with M-Sport, the 15-time rally winner believes his recent experiences will stand him in good stead. He told WRC.com:

“Although I didn't achieve what I wanted with Citroen, overall, my experience with the team was very good.

“I couldn’t fight for the title in 2013 and that was disappointing. But that did give me a totally different perspective on being in a team and contributing to it in a different way.

“That was really good for me and I think that will help me in the future. It may even give me some ideas to take to Ford about how we can do things differently.

“For instance, there were loads of things that I learned from Seb (Loeb) about driving on Tarmac and it’s just a case of putting those into practice with the Fiesta this week.”

Hirvonen enjoyed a successful pre-Rallye Monte Carlo test in M-Sport’s latest Ford Fiesta RS WRC and believes having a car that suits his driving style will enable him to challenge for rally wins.
But he was quick to point out that overhauling the VW Motorsport team will be tough. He said:

“I think VW will be the team to beat. [Sebastien] Ogier and Jari-Matti [Latvala] will be as strong as always.”