x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Hirvonen gunning for title

The BP-Ford Abu Dhabi team face an uphill challenge to overturn an 11 point defecit and claim a third successive manufacturers world title.

The BP-Ford Abu Dhabi team face an uphill challenge to overturn an 11 point defecit and claim a third successive manufacturers world title. Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala's best home of managing that is to secure a one-two finish, while also hoping the Citroens of Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo struggle. Hirvonen, 28, has missed out on the drivers title to Loeb but is determined to end his season on a high. The scenery in Wales is similar the tracks Hirvonen, and Latvala, would race on when growing up in Finland.

"Some parts of the rally are very fast, even quicker than in Finland. The difference is that the fast parts here don't last long because there are usually hairpin bends that bring the speeds down again," he said. "The nature of the roads change more than in Finland, Driving in darkness, fog and rain is incredibly difficult. Night driving makes the rally even trickier. Alongside Japan and Monte Carlo, this is one of only three rounds where we drive in darkness.

"I feel confident though and I think we have a good chance of a one-two finish." Latvala, 23, considers the British leg of the season one of his favourites having made his debut there six years ago. "I regard this as my second home rally. I drove many rallies here in 2002 and 2003 and I'm familiar with the nature of the roads," he said. "A driver needs to feel confident with the pace notes, be brave and rely on the co-driver."

@Email:sports@thenational.ae