Hirvonen upbeat after massive test

Ford's Mikko Hirvonen has completed his most intensive pre-event test ever in an effort to maintain his lead in the World Rally Championship on next week's Catalunya Rally

Hirvonen upbeat after massive test

Hirvonen drove the test Focus RS WRC for 217 miles in one day of testing last week - the same mileage he will tackle across three days of competition on the penultimate round of this year's WRC.

The Finn's monster day of testing was just a sixth of the total test time undertaken by the Ford team. Five-time world rally winner Markko Martin started the session last week, completing two days in the test Focus, before handing the car over to Hirvonen. Jari-Matti Latvala completed the running earlier this week, with his two days in the car. In total, Ford racked up more than 900 miles of running.

Even before they stepped aboard the test car, Hirvonen and Latvala had both gone through tuition from asphalt driving experts; Hirvonen drove with former European Touring Car champion Rob Wilson in Britain while Latvala was given a guiding hand from ex-Finnish touring car champion Olli Haapalainen.

"Preparations have gone well," said Hirvonen. "I did some coaching with Rob Wilson in the UK to focus again on asphalt driving. It's something I've done for the past three years before asphalt rallies.

"Then my test went well and hopefully I picked up something extra that will add to the experience from previous years. The car felt very good so I'll wait to see how that transfers to the rally roads. On just one day I completed 350km, and that's the same distance as the entire three-day rally in Spain."

Hirvonen takes a five-point lead into next week's Catalunya Rally, but he knows he will face a big fight to continue a four-rally winning run. Citroen men Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo have finished first and second in Spain for the last three years and Loeb - Hirvonen's only title threat - has won the event for the last four years.

"I'm not feeling under pressure," Hirvonen insisted. "It's just really exciting. I have a chance to win the title but I'm keeping my feet firmly on the ground.

"I have no expectations at all and that way I've taken the pressure away, I've put it to one side. I've had a good feeling for the last five events and I've proved things to myself that I needed to."

shares
comments
Rally Bulgaria faces crucial meeting

Previous article

Rally Bulgaria faces crucial meeting

Next article

Ford starts testing Fiesta S2000

Ford starts testing Fiesta S2000
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021