M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen may be holding sixth place at the end of Rally Finland’s second day, but there is still all to play for. Immersed in one of the event’s most closely-fought battles, the Finn has not given up on a stronger result with 166.96 kilometres of competitive stages yet to run.
The day’s action unfolded in true rally territory with nine stages through Jamsa’s renowned forests. High speeds, big jumps and technical roads were the order of the day and Hirvonen remained upbeat behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC on the familiar ground.
The Finn embarked on the first full day of competition with one goal in mind – chasing down a coveted Rally Finland podium amidst stiff competition from his rivals. Controlling the gaps over the morning loop the M-Sport man kept himself in contention to do just that, but a spin through the second pass of Päijälä (SS10) put paid to his efforts.
Lose time in Finland and the blisteringly quick terrain will make you work harder than ever to win it back. Hirvonen knows that better than most but with two days of rallying still to go this notoriously unforgiving event is far from over.
The unrivalled experience of Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen could yet prove pivotal. There are few who know these stages as well as M-Sport’s resident Finns and the pairing have not lost sight of a strong result on home soil.
“We had a spin on SS10 which was a bit frustrating as we lost all of the advantage that we had gained over the guys behind. It was a silly mistake, but it happens sometimes. Everyone is so close to the limit here that it can happen and we were lucky that there was no damage to the car.
“I’m really looking forward to the fight over the next two days. For sure everyone is pushing hard and everyone is going to be fast, but there is still a long way to go. I feel confident and I enjoy these stages so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s fair to say that Mikko [Hirvonen] is frustrated after the spin he had this afternoon as he knows how difficult it is to regain any lost time around here. Having said that, there is still a long way to go on some very difficult stages; if anyone’s experience can play a key role this weekend, it’s his. »