I'll admit it. In Sardinia earlier this year, I was unconvinced about Mikko Hirvonen. I should have known better.
Ford's lead driver, Hirvonen didn't exactly hit the ground running in this year's World Rally Championship, but speed, nerve, and consistency have brought him through the first half of the season at the top of the table. And he's there on merit.
Mid-way through the opening day of Rally d'Italia and Hirvonen was all at sea. Leading the championship, he was running first on the road and being utterly crucified as he tried to guide his Focus RS WRC 07 on the safest and speediest course through the gravely Sardinian roads.
Sebastien Loeb and Hirvonen's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala were both on a mission not just to lead the rally, but to thoroughly demoralise Hirvonen; nice blokes the pair of them, but they had no compunction about kicking Hirvonen while he was down.