Mikko Hirvonen says he is hopeful of making the most of changes to the route of this weekend's Acropolis Rally.

The event will move to a new base in Loutraki this year and will see the return of a number of stages not seen in the event since the 1980's. There is also the prospect of a sting in the tail on the final day with two runs through the 33km Aghii Theordori test.

The new stages will provide crews with a different challenge on their annual visit to Greece this time around, but Hirvonen said he was hoping to make the most of that fact to fight for a first Acropolis victory.

"Conditions are likely to be very similar to Sardinia, but rougher," he said. "There are so many new stages this year that it's almost like tackling a new rally. I seem to do well on new rallies, so I hope the same is true here. Acropolis is so tough that it's probably the only event in the season where a driver must think seriously about protecting the car. It's still flat out all the way, but I must be careful where I brake and give some thought to looking after the tyres.

"I feel the heat most before stage starts, both when I'm changing tyres and also sitting in the car with my seat belts and helmet on, waiting for three or four minutes to start a stage. There is no air getting into the car. On the stages themselves air comes into the car, and I'm so concentrated on driving and listening to Jarmo reading the pace notes that it doesn't feel so bad."


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