Hirvonen helps Kankkunen prepare

Ford's number one driver Mikko Hirvonen helped his hero Juha Kankkunen in his preparations for a one-off World Rally Championship return on Rally Finland this week

Hirvonen helps Kankkunen prepare

Kankkunen, a three-time winner of the Jyvaskyla-based event, attended Hirvonen's pre-event test last week and rode in the test Focus RS WRC with the 29-year-old.

"It was good to go with Mikko," said Kankkunen. "We were testing in Ouninpohja road, where I know it 100 per cent. He is a good driver. It was the chance for me to have a look at the car and have him tell me what I can change.

"I was impressed with his speed. Okay, the first section was normal, you know into the top gear and over the jumps, that was nothing special - what I remember. But then we come to the first tight left junction and I was thinking: 'I hope he has remembered where we are; I hope he has remembered the corner...' This is where the car is very impressive, in the slow speed corners.

"It was quite strange being in the car with him, it wasn't so long ago that I was teaching him how to drive!"

Hirvonen admitted he had found the scenario of Kankkunen co-driving for him quite surreal.

"My first thought was: 'I'd better not crash!' said Hirvonen. "Really, we were not doing anything special, it was just the fundamentals in the car, what this or that does. I suppose there was pressure to have him there, though, he's a big hero for everybody in the sport. It was great, he's such a nice guy and to hear his stories about the days when he was driving was really nice."

Kankkunen will drive for the Stobart Ford World Rally Team on Rally Finland, which begins this evening. He completed four runs at shakedown and was 4.4 seconds down on fastest Stobart driver Matthew Wilson.

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