Mikko Hirvonen encouraged by warm-up win on Rally Finnskog

Mikko Hirvonen says his victory on yesterday's Rally Finnskog has confirmed he is taking the Citroen DS3 WRC in the right direction ahead of this week's Rally Sweden

Mikko Hirvonen encouraged by warm-up win on Rally Finnskog

The Finn starts the second round of the World Rally Championship chasing a third straight Rally Sweden win and his success on the one-day round of the Norwegian series has boosted his confidence. He took a half-minute win over Henning Solberg's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI. Mads Ostberg was third, a further 19 seconds down on Solberg.

"Our feeling with the car improved the further we went," said Hirvonen. "Going first meant we nonetheless had to clear the fine layer of snow covering the frozen ice.

"We thought that the conditions would be better on the second runs, but they actually turned out to be more difficult due to the other competitors having completed their runs.

"We are very happy to have won, and especially to have beaten the other WRCs competing here. This has confirmed that we found the right set-up in testing.

"The conditions were similar to those we will have at Rally Sweden, so we're confident. We have a very positive feeling. The DS3 WRC is genuinely quick in the most extreme conditions."

Citroen has not won Rally Sweden since Sebastien Loeb's sole success on the event in a Xsara WRC in 2004.

Proton driver P-G Andersson finished fourth in Norway and won the S2000 category, beating reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen's Skoda Fabia S2000 by 5.1 seconds.

Andersson said: "I dropped some time on the first stage, but this was the car's first metres in snow, so I wanted to see how it felt. It went very, very well after that. This is a good preparation for Rally Sweden."

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