Friday | 10 Jan 2014

Hirvonen in buoyant mood

Mikko Hirvonen says he is targeting at least a podium on the upcoming Rallye Monte Carlo, after successfully reacquainting himself with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC this week.

The Finn’s pre-Monte test, in which he racked up close to 600kms over two days, marked his first outing in an M-Sport-prepared Ford since he left Malcolm Wilson’s squad to join Citroen at the end of 2011.

Although he only drove the car in dry and damp conditions, rather than on icy roads that typify the challenge he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen are likely to face in Monte Carlo, Hirvonen was pleased with what he discovered.

“I was quite surprised about how different the car felt to last time I drove it,” he told "There was a big difference in how it was handling and working and the feeling with the car was really good.

“It took a little bit of time to get used to some of the details. The seating is a little bit different and it took me a while to find the handbrake going into the hairpins – small things like that – but I really enjoyed it a lot.”

Hirvonen and his M-Sport team are now making their final preparations ahead of starting the Rallye Monte Carlo recce tomorrow (Saturday) and the 33-year-old believes a strong result could be on the cards next week.

He said: “Some things in the test made me realise that I can definitely push harder with this Fiesta and I believe we can really have a good fight. I have to get back to the pace where I was really consistent, and if I can do that, I’m aiming to at least be on the podium in Monte. If I can challenge for the win that would be really fantastic.”