Mikko Hirvonen has admitted that the unpredictable weather could play a key part in deciding the winner of the 2008 Rallye de France – Tour de Corse.
The BP Ford driver goes into the weekend knowing that he needs to outscore Sebastien Loeb to try and close the twelve point gap to the Frenchman in the standings, with only two events to go after the final asphalt event of the campaign.
Hirvonen has a 100 per cent finishing record on the island from four previous starts but will be up against a rival who has won the event a number of times in the past.
However, with the chance that the weather could play a part in deciding the outcome of the event, and the current regulations making tyre choice more critical than ever, Hirvonen admitted that anything could happen over the course of the weekend.
"The weather is so unpredictable here," he said. "One moment it's dry and sunny, the next it can be pouring with rain. The tyre rules mean we only have hard or soft compound rubber from which to choose - basically a dry tyre and a wet weather option - which makes the choice easier. However, it has become more important to know when it will start raining, rather than how hard it will rain as we only have the one wet weather option anyway.
"On the second day we have to choose tyres more than three hours before the final test in the loop so if rain is forecast, the team needs to predict when it will arrive so we can choose the correct rubber. Pirelli's tyres work well on the Focus RS WRC in light rain, but I've not experienced heavy rain yet so I wouldn't feel quite so comfortable in those conditions.”
Hirvonen added that competing on consecutive weekends would help him going into the weekend as he is already in the groove when it comes to competing on asphalt.
"I like competing on consecutive weekends because it's easy to slot into the driving style required for asphalt having just finished a rally on the same surface,” he said. “This rally is much slower than Spain. It's more twisty, with corner after corner. Although some roads have been resurfaced in recent years to make them smoother, there are still many bumpy sections with broken asphalt which is abrasive for tyres.
“It's tough, but I enjoy Corsica because it's the classic asphalt rally in the championship and more traditional than the other sealed surface events."