Spain driver report: part 1
Our first driver review from Rally de España
The M-Sport World Rally Team driver finished third at last week’s RallyRACC-Rally de Espana – an outcome that brought a barren run of results to a pleasing end. It was Hirvonen’s first podium since Rally Portugal in April.
The Finn has largely credited his success on Spain’s gravel and asphalt stages to his liking of Michelin’s upgraded range of WRC tyres that have been introduced in recent months.
“When we had mousse in the tyres and the construction of the tyres was softer, that worked for me,” he explained. “I always seemed to struggle on the harder construction of tyre because it didn’t give such good feedback on the grip level.
“Now the tyre is moving all the time and I feel confident. Our car works really well on the tyre, as well. Everything just happens which means we can push harder without thinking about the grip. You know where the grip is and that makes it all easy.”
Team principal Malcolm Wilson said that Hirvonen’s change in fortune owed a lot to the hard work that he, co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen, the M-Sport team and Michelin had put in during an extensive pre-event test as they searched for a set up that would suit Hirvonen and his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
And Wilson is hoping the 34-year-old has discovered his form at just the right time, as the team sits within striking distance of second place in the manufacturers’ title with only one event remaining – Wales Rally GB (13-16 November).
“With just 12 points separating second to fourth in the battle for second place in the manufacturers’ title, I think that it is going to be a very exciting end to the season,” he said.