Ford bullish on Finland chances

Ford are bullish about their chances on this weekend's Rally Finland and believe they start with a distinct advantage - because their two drivers are Finnish

Ford bullish on Finland chances

Historically, the Rally Finland is usually won by local drivers. Only six times in the 55 runnings of the event has a driver from outside of the country taken victory.

Should either Ford drivers Marcus Gronholm or Mikko Hirvonen win this weekend, it will therefore mark the country's 50th success in the home event.

Gronholm has won five of the last six Rally Finland, and following a strong test last month, he is confident of victory again in his Focus WRC.

"I don't really need to tell anyone that Finland is one of my favourite rallies,
I think everyone knows that," he said.

"Rallying is so huge in my country and Rally Finland is such a massive event that nothing can take away the enjoyment of winning here. I will never get fed up with that.

"I want to experience that again and after a good test last month I think the Ford Focus can win.

"I know the stages well but that doesn't mean I'm able to lower my concentration. The speeds are so high that just a small mistake can be extremely costly.

"If you take the wrong line over a crest or into a bend and have to brake where normally you wouldn't, then it takes so much longer to regain the momentum than on slower rallies. It's crucial to drive cleanly."

Gronholm's teammate is still searching for his maiden WRC victory, and knows that this weekend represents probably his best chance all season - although he realises his teammate will be his biggest rival.

"I have my targets for the weekend but I'm keeping those to myself," Hirvonen said.

"All I will say is that it's a shame for me that Marcus will be in the same car because in Finland he is the man to beat.

"I grew up on stages like these and a driver has to be fully committed on these roads. But only two of these stages are used in national championship rallies and I have only driven Saturday's stages once before in a world rally car and that was last year in a Focus.

"The more times you drive a stage the more you learn, so last year's experience has given me more idea about how fast I can drive the big jumps in the second leg."

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