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Hirvonen: Weather will be critical in Germany.

Mikko Hirvonen faces a massive challenge on the Rallye Deutschland next week, as he will need to ensure he beats Sebastien Loeb if he is to stay top in the race for the 2008 drivers' title.

Following his failure to win on home ground in Finland last weekend, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man now has just a slender one-point cushion and the tenth round in the World Rally Championship couldn't be more favourable for his rival.

Indeed Loeb has won Trier-based event every year since it joined the WRC back in 2002 and as such, Mikko is going to have to do something extremely special to break the Frenchman's run.

The Rallye Deutschland is an extremely demanding and tough event too, and it is just as unpredictable as the opening asphalt encounter in Monte Carlo back in January. Furthermore the changing nature of the characteristics and surface of the speed tests, along with the threat of rain, make it especially difficult.

Mikko main's concern though is the weather and the Finn would definitely prefer things to be dry, ahead of his fifth outing there.

The only plus is that he will run first on the road and unlike on gravel, that could work to his advantage. He will also use the new 2008 spec Focus, another small boost.

"Road conditions are the single most important factor on this rally," said the 28-year-old, who took his best result on the Rallye Deutschland last year when he finished third. "If the weather is dry then it's an enjoyable event with some fast and flowing stages. But if it rains the roads can be treacherous.

"The rain is often localised as well which would make it difficult to judge what compound of tyres to use. It's good to be first in the start order here though, although on asphalt the advantages and disadvantage aren't as great as on gravel.

"The first cars pull mud and dirt onto the road so it makes it harder for those lower down the order. It is good we have had a test just before the rally, especially after a fast, smooth gravel event like Finland. Baumholder is always rough and bumpy, while the Mosel stages are fast and the car can bounce around a lot. So it's good to get used to these conditions in advance."



Related Pictures

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Mikko Hirvonen (FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC07, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
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Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
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