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Hirvonen aims to impress with new engine

Mikko Hirvonen says is hopeful that the revised engine fitted to his Ford Focus WRC this weekend in Portugal will give him the chance to fight Sebastien Loeb for a first win of the year.

The Finn currently lies second in the championship standings and is eight points behind Loeb after following up a third place finish in Ireland with back-to-back second places in Norway and Cyprus.

Hirvonen will look to improve on his fifth place the last time Portugal featured on the WRC calendar back in 2007, and said he was hopeful that the improved performance from the Focus' engine would allow him to fight Loeb for victory on the first true gravel event of the year.

"I'm confident of matching the pace I showed [on day two and three in Cyprus] because my speed, especially on the drier sections, gave me plenty of belief for the gravel events to come,” he said. “The engine upgrades are another step forward. Although the nature of the regulations means huge steps forward are impossible to achieve, there is more power and a bit more response and that will all help," he said.

"They are enjoyable stages to drive and Portugal is the rally I like most in the southern Europe and Mediterranean regions. The roads will be abrasive if conditions are dry because some sections have a solid bedrock base with a sandy surface on top. You don't see many loose rocks compared to Greece and Turkey, but the hard base does make it hard for tyres.”

Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala said he too was hopeful of a solid run in Portugal, adding that he was more confident going into a run of seven straight gravel events on the calendar.

"The start to the season was tough, and the rallies in Ireland and Cyprus were probably the most difficult I will face this year,” he said. “Now we start the gravel events which comprise the bulk of the championship and I'm happy about that. I've tested the new engine and while it's not always easy to feel small improvements behind the wheel, I'm sure we will see them in our times.

"The road surface is very abrasive and hard for the tyres, but it gives good grip. The tracks aren't rough and the stages contain a mix of narrow sections and wider areas. It's important to be careful on the exit of corners because there are often small trees on the outside waiting to catch a driver who slides wide so keeping the driving line precise is crucial.”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Jukka KETOMÄKI (FIN) - Jarkko ALANEN (FIN) Skoda Fabia R5
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Hiroki ARAI (JPN) - Glenn MACNEALL (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5, Tommi Mäkinen Racing
12.02.2017 - Alexey LUKYANUK (RUS) - Alexey ARNAUTOV (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Emil BERGKVIST (SWE) - Joakim SJÖBERG (SWE) Citroën DS3 R5
12.02.2017 - Emil BERGKVIST (SWE)  Citroën DS3 R5
12.02.2017 - Jarosław KOLTUN (POL) - Ireneusz PLESKOT (POL) Ford Fiesta R5, C‐Rally
12.02.2017 - Eyvind BRYNILDSEN (NOR) - Anders FREDRIKSSON (SWE) Ford Fiesta R5 Adapta Motorsport AS
12.02.2017 - Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport

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