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Ex-WRC man Mikko Hirvonen to drive national West Cork Rally section

Former World Rally Championship frontrunner Mikko Hirvonen will campaign a Ford Escort Mk2 in the national section of the West Cork Rally in Ireland next month

The 39-year-old started 163 WRC events in 2002-14 with 15 wins as a Ford and Citroen factory driver.

He has competed in Ireland before, back when the country had a WRC round in Rally Ireland.

He finished fourth in 2007 and third in '09, pictured below, both while driving M-Sport Ford Focus WRCs.

He also contested the Cork '20' rally in the build up to the 2007 Rally Ireland and finished fifth.

Since retiring from the WRC in 2014, Hirvonen has competed on a number of events, mostly in his native Finland in an Escort Mk2.

The last time he drove one of the machines was at the Rally Ronde Prealpi Master Show in Italy in 2017.

The March 16-17 West Cork event is the second round of the British Rally Championship and Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

It is set to feature 230 kilometres (142 miles) of competitive stages and is expected to attract some of the best drivers in the UK and Ireland.

It will not be Hirvonen's first event of the year as he is contesting the Legend Boucles a Bastogne event in Belgium this weekend.

He is joined there by current Hyundai WRC driver Thierry Neuville, who rekindles his relationship with his Opel Corsa that he drove early in his career.

FIA rally director and ex-Citroen team boss Yves Matton is also competing, in a Porsche 911, while endurance racing legend and regular rally driver Marc Duez steers a Prodrive-built BMW M3 E30.

The mixed surface event finishes on Sunday February 4 and it was won last year by 2011 Monte Carlo Rally winner Bryan Bouffier, who has not entered in '19.

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