Hirvonen to be 'patient' in Cyprus

Mikko Hirvonen says he plans to take a disciplined approach to next weekend's Cyprus Rally, which is the first mixed-surface World Rally Championship event since 1996

Hirvonen to be 'patient' in Cyprus

The rally will start with a day of asphalt stages before heading to the rocky gravel roads more traditionally associated with the Cyprus round. To save costs gravel tyres will be used for all three days, and Hirvonen believes this will make the rally even more tricky than usual.

"The car moves around more on gravel rubber and it's necessary to turn into corners earlier and to brake sooner," said the Ford driver.

"It's difficult to predict what will happen because we've never had to do this but I'm ready for the challenge.

"The stages in Cyprus are so twisty that there are sections where a driver thinks he's going too slowly. But to push too hard risks the car sliding wide and losing momentum.

"It's important to be patient and believe that other drivers are having just the same thoughts. It's said a lot, but this rally is unique in the championship."

Hirvonen is currently six points behind Sebastien Loeb in the championship after the Citroen man's victories in the first two rounds.

Ford's second driver Jari-Matti Latvala has had a disappointing start to the year, crashing in Ireland and taking a distant third in Norway. During Ford's recent test in Sardinia, Latvala sat alongside Hirvonen to try and learn from his teammate.

"Mikko has a different driving style to me and in tight corners he brakes differently," said Latvala. "He uses the handbrake to get round corners and I don't. Mikko also keeps the car much straighter than I do.

"I drive more aggressively but that's something I'm trying to change."

He said he was trying to tone down his hard-charging style for Cyprus, particularly during the asphalt sections.

"I learned on the test that I must still use my asphalt technique and keep the car straight with precise lines," Latvala explained. "Too much sideways driving will destroy the tyres."

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