Podcast: What Mikko did next...
Hirvonen keeping busy since WRC retirement in 2014
The event will mark the cross country rally debut for the 34-year-old Finn, who called time on his 13-year WRC career last season, having finished runner-up in the drivers’ championship four times and recorded 15 rally wins.
His time leading up to the Dakar (3-13 January 2016) will be spent getting acquainted with his MINI ALL4 Racing in selected rounds of this year's FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, starting with Spain’s Baja Aragón (24-26 July).
He will be joined in the cockpit by experienced French co-driver Michel Périn, a four-time Dakar winner who celebrated his last Dakar Rally win in 2014 alongside Nani Roma. Hirvonen and Périn teamed up for the first time at a test in Morocco earlier this year.
Hirvonen said: “Dakar is such a long race and the dunes there are in a world of their own. So, to finish the event without encountering major issues or without getting stuck anywhere already would represent a really good achievement for my first Dakar.
“Meanwhile, the Baja Aragón is going to be more of the kind of rallying I'm used to. But driving without pace notes in your road book is not so easy and I still have to familiarise myself with the MINI ALL4 Racing as well.
"But should I feel good in the car and everything works well we hopefully will be able to set some good times in Baja Aragon.”