x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Hirvonen not thinking of taking his foot off the gas

Malcolm Wilson described Mikko Hirvonen's performance in winning Rally Finland as the "best of his career".

The Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen is greeted by Malcolm Wilson after winning the Rally of Finland, his third successive win.
The Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen is greeted by Malcolm Wilson after winning the Rally of Finland, his third successive win.

Malcolm Wilson described Mikko Hirvonen's performance in winning Rally Finland as the "best of his career". The BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director was thrilled with his driver's display as he won for the first time on home soil and opened up a three-point lead in the championship over Citroen's Sebastien Loeb in the process. "No question it was a superb drive and was the best of his career," Wilson said.

"It was a very close battle between him and Sebastien but he always had it under control and never made a mistake. "This was a rally where you could not afford to make a mistake and Mikko is the kind of driver who can deliver that kind of performance. "We call him the Ice Man in the team and he delivered an Ice Man performance." Meanwhile, Hirvonen is not taking anything for granted in his title duel with Loeb despite claiming his third successive victory.

The Finn is the form man in the series with this win coming on the back of his triumphs in Greece and in Poland giving him a narrow lead over his rival with just three rallies to go, in Australia, Spain and Britain. But he believes the season is still wide open as he looks to end the Citroen driver's reign as world champion, which has lasted five years, and is expecting a tough end to the year. "Three points is something, but there is still a long way to go," he said.

"First there is Australia, where I am going to be first on the road which is going to make it difficult conditions, and then in Spain there is the tarmac [surface] which has favoured Sebastien greatly in the past. "I am just going to take it rally by rally and see what happens, but I will go to Australia on a big high after winning here." Loeb is also expecting the battle to go the wire and said: "It is going to be very tight.

"It is three points and it is going to be very tough and will be a good fight. "No one knows what Australia is going to be like so we will just go there and do the best we can."