In the second part of our review of 2014’s top five WRC drivers, we examine what turned out to be the farewell season for Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen.
2014 vital statistics
|Drivers' Championship position||4th|
|Drivers' championship points:||126|
|Best result:||2nd (Portugal and Britain)|
|Stage wins (from a season total of 249):||7|
|Power Stage points:||5|
2014 in summary: Little did we know that when Hirvonen returned to his M-Sport ‘home’ for 2014, it would signal the start of his final season in WRC.
After two years at Citroen, the thinking was that rejoining the team with which he netted two manufacturers’ world titles and three runner-up spots in the drivers’ series could spark an Indian summer to a career approaching its latter part.
It didn’t work out like that. Sure, he led in Portugal before finishing second. But alternator problems stopped him in both Monte-Carlo and Mexico, he slammed into a wall in Argentina and fire destroyed his Ford Fiesta RS in Sardinia.
After six rounds, his only top seven finish apart from Portugal was fourth in Sweden.
Surely the support of his fervent fans in his home town of Jyväskylä would reignite the season at Neste Oil Rally Finland? Sadly not. A first day spin knocked his confidence and he could only manage fifth. Questions started to be asked as to whether he would see out the year.
But at least Hirvonen’s famed consistency to rack up the finishes returned. From Poland onwards he was never outside the top five, and the ‘old’ Mikko was back for the final two rounds when he took third in Spain and a storming second in Britain.
To sum it up: Just before Wales Rally GB, he announced the event would be his last. He wants to spend more time with his young family and it was a pleasure to see a carefree Hirvonen, no longer wrestling over his future, bow out with an attacking drive reminiscent of old. Enjoy retirement!
Q. Best moment of the season?
MH: “Britain. There couldn’t really have been a better end than to have a fight like that in my last rally.”
Q. Your biggest near-disaster of the season?
MH: “I was hoping my accident in Argentina would have been a near-disaster – but it wasn’t. It was a disaster!
Q. What are you looking forward to next year?
MH: “I’m really happy that when January comes my calendar is free. I can’t wait for that.”
Hirvonen's season in pictures
Mikko Hirvonen's 2014 gallery
Season report: Mads Ostberg
Norwegian ended fifth in the title standings
Hirvonen's final day dilemma in GB
Finn admits to concerns over final day fight with Meeke
Hirvonen: My WRC memories
Retiring Finn relives his best career moments
Hirvonen to retire from WRC
Mikko Hirvonen will bid farewell at Wales Rally GB