Hirvonen Gets Skoda Drive in Japan

Skoda have announced Mikko Hirvonen will drive for them on the Rally Japan

The former Subaru works-driver will pilot the team's second Fabia WRC 05 on the event, with his usual co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen partnering the 25-year old Finn.

It will the team's eighth driver this season, and the sixth to be used in the team's second car. Former world champion Colin McRae will drive the car on his home event on the Wales Rally GB.

Hirvonen has been driving a privateer Ford Focus on selected events this season, and starred on the Acropolis Rally, finishing fifth. He was promoted to Ford's works squad as the team's second driver on his home event last month and finished fifth.

"I haven't driven so much this year so I'm really keen to get behind the wheel," said Hirvonen. "It will be interesting to see what we can achieve - Japan is a very tricky rally with stages that are fast and flowing but which are also quite tricky. I won't have much time to get used to the Fabia WRC 05 before we actually start the rally but I'm sure it's going to be fun."

Skoda Motorsport Team Manager Joan Sureda believes Hirvonen's experience on the event will be useful for the team's development. Skoda did not enter the rally last year when the event made its debut on the WRC, but Hirvonen managed seventh on the event in his works Subaru.

"I'm very happy that Mikko has agreed to drive for us in Japan because even just one year's experience will be very useful to us for our debut there," said Sureda. "Already this year he has shown great speed and I hope he will be able to bring a good result.

"We have used different drivers in our second car this year as it was always our plan to try and use the best drivers available."

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