Ex-WRC star, current Dakar driver Hirvonen enters 2019 Cyprus Rally

Former World Rally Championship star and current Dakar Rally driver Mikko Hirvonen will enter the penultimate round of this year's European Rally Championship, the Cyprus Rally

Hirvonen who finished as runner-up to Sebastien Loeb in the WRC standings four times in his career, will drive a Ford Fiesta R5 run by fellow former Ford factory driver Markko Martin at the event on September 27-29.

"I have fond memories of the Cyprus Rally from the world championship," said Hirvonen, who started the Cyprus Rally four times in his WRC career.

He finished on the podium at the event twice and scored a second place on his last start there 10 years ago (below).

"The podium will be the last thing on my mind when I return later this month," he continued. "This is about having fun on a challenging rally.

"I always enjoyed visiting Cyprus and there's a bit of a 'Dakar' feel to some of the stages.

"Having contested the Dakar three times, I like this kind of challenge, which is more about driving with a bit strategy rather than going flat out.

"I've known Markko Martin for a long time and Cyprus is a great place to go to this time of year. It's a well-organised and demanding event."

Hirvonen tested the Fiesta he will run in Cyprus at the Louna-Eesti Ralli in Estonia at the end of August.

He added: "Although I'm not going to be paying too much attention to my stage times in Cyprus, I said to Markko I'd prefer to have some knowledge of the Fiesta and his team before Cyprus.

"Doing the event was good practice and it was actually quite useful because we had a small technical problem that could easily have occurred in Cyprus had we not found it in Estonia."

The Cyprus Rally, which qualifies as a Middle East championship even as well as an ERC round, returns to Nicosia and the mountain roads around the city after being based in Larnaca last season.

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