BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen is vowing to do all he can this season to win the drivers' title and stop Sebastien Loeb from taking it for the sixth year in succession.
Hirvonen, who kept the title fight alive until the penultimate round in 2008, but ultimately had to settle for the runners-up spot, is determined to go one better in '09 and help the 'Blue Oval' get back on top in the manufacturers'.
Speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
, the 28-year-old added that he thinks he knows now just what is needed to get the job done.
“The feeling is really good. It's been a quite a long break so I actually can't wait to get to Ireland and start driving again,” he said. “I definitely feel more confident; if you just think of the title fight. I didn't really know what to fully expect last year - what I could actually do - but then I saw that I was able to stay in the title fight for quite a long time.
“It wasn't quite enough, but I think I learnt what I need to do to if I want to be able to beat Sebastien.
“Of course it was disappointing to lose out in the end, but overall I'm really happy with how 2008 went. I had good speed in some rallies and was really consistent. All I need to do now is just be a bit more crazy - and win more rallies, then hopefully we can do it.”
As for how he is going to approach the Rally Ireland this coming week, the first round in this year's World Rally Championship, he stated that at the very least he wants a podium.
He doesn't underestimate the challenge however, and thinks it will probably be harder than the traditional opener in Monte Carlo.
“The WRC season has always started in Monte Carlo so it feels a bit strange to go to Ireland. But I think the feeling is that Ireland could be even more difficult than Monte Carlo has been in recent years,” he continued.
“Ireland was very tough in 2007 [when we last did it] and it should be even more difficult now it is in January, when I think there will be some black ice in places. It is so narrow and fast. Also lots of cars pull mud on the road and everything.
“Nevertheless though, I definitely want to be on the podium. But of course if there is any chance I want to try and fight for the win. A podium or a win I will be happy.”TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MIKKO HIRVONEN: CLICK HERE