Mikko Hirvonen has admitted he had 'hoped to be a bit quicker' and 'fight harder' on Rally de Portugal last weekend.
Hirvonen again managed to get on the podium, as he did in Mexico last month, but disappointingly for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT man he was never able to take the fight to the Volkswagen's of Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, and he also had to play second fiddle to his team-mate, Dani Sordo on day one.
Although he did eventually take second, after Sordo crashed out on Saturday and after technical problems cost Latvala over 4 minutes on Sunday morning, he still wasn't pleased.
“Second place is always a good result, but I must say that I hoped to be a bit quicker here. It was a tough weekend for us. We wanted to fight harder, but we didn't,” he lamented. “I tried to push hard, maybe we were overdriving – maybe the rhythm wasn't the best. With Jari-Matti's problem we got second, but that's not what we came here for, but it is what we got.”
Despite his disappointment, however, Hirvonen does think the team has improved since the previous event in Mexico.
“We have made a step with some areas of the car, but we have never changed the car so much [during one event] – in places like suspension. We worked on the roll bars, springs, dampers, I can't say I found the solution; in some places the car is really, really good, but in the fastest sections we are losing time – we need to improve there," he explained.
“[So, yes], we have made good progress since Mexico, but we needed a bit more time on the road to optimise the suspension settings and perhaps that's what prevented me from being on the pace on Friday morning. We need to keep working now,” he reiterated.
Asked if he felt under pressure to score for the team after Sordo's exit, Hirvonen replied: “There was not the pressure from the team, I was really pushing hard and not thinking of taking points for the team. Even on the last stage, I pushed like hell, but we still lost eight seconds or something. We need to find more solutions - and I need to try to be better [too],” he stated.
Meanwhile, Sordo, who had been challenging for the lead until his off in SS6, re-started on the final day under the Rally 2 regulations and finished 12th overall, taking two manufacturers' points.
The Spaniard was disappointed by his error on day two [see separate story
], but was still greatly encouraged by his early pace in his DS3 WRC and he is now keen to replicate that form in Argentina in a few weeks time: “Most of all, I'll take heart from how I started the rally, because the feeling I had in the car was better than ever before,” he said.
“The other thing I learned was that you really need to perform well in qualifying to give yourself the best possible chance of victory. I'll head for Argentina even more motivated than before and determined to show everyone what I can do.”