M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko and Jarmo finished a challenging third day of competition at Rally Finland in fifth place.

It was a frustrating morning for home hero Hirvonen. As one of the fastest and most technical events in the FIA World Rally Championship, Finland demands commitment. Any hesitation and the fast-paced stages will punish your time; and he admitted that a somewhat uncertain run through the morning’s opening loop had hampered his performance.

But there are few more determined drivers in the service park and the Finn was resolute on making amends in front of his adoring fans. Heading out for the afternoon loop, he was eager to put his knowledge of the stages to good use. Unfortunately it was not to be.

Hitting a stray rock in the middle of a rut four kilometres into the second pass of Jukojärvi (SS20), the M-Sport man damaged the damper of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Haemorrhaging time on the rougher sections of the three remaining stages, a potential charge was halted and Hirvonen had to settle for fifth position ahead of tomorrow’s final day.

Mikko (5th) said:

“Today wasn’t what I was hoping and expecting. I really wanted to be in the fight for fourth this morning but I struggled to keep up with the other guys. The car was sliding around too much and I just didn’t have the confidence to get the times that I needed.

“Then this afternoon I hit a rock about four kilometres into the Jukojärvi stage [SS20] which damaged the damper and it was difficult after that.

“There’s still one day to go, and in Finland it is never over until it’s over. Tomorrow is a new day.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“Mikko is obviously a bit disappointed with the way things went today. He was in a great battle for fourth place but he struggled to match the pace this morning. He made some changes during service and was ready to push but unfortunately he hit a rock which damaged the front-right suspension. Fortunately he didn’t lose too much time as a result and having made some more changes this evening I hope we can see some good times from him tomorrow.