BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen has put himself right back into contention in the battle for the 2009 drivers' title following his convincing victory at the weekend on the Acropolis Rally.

Hirvonen has had a string of podium results this year and has only failed to score once, when engine problems sidelined him in Argentina. However he had to wait until the trip to Greece to get back on the top step of the podium and repeat what he last managed in Japan at the end of 2008.

Speaking following his victory, the 28-year-old was clearly delighted, as he cut the gap to championship leader, Sebastien Loeb, from 17 points to just 7, with five rounds still to go.

"I drove a clever rally and my plan worked perfectly, with no mistakes and no punctures. I knew that if we finished the rally without problems then we would be high in the order and that was the case," he reflected.

"The key to success was to stay on the road and be cautious rather than drive flat out all the way.

"The car was amazing all weekend, especially the last stage which was so rough. I was fortunate to have such a large lead that I was able to drive steadily. We're back in the championship fight now and the final five rallies of the year will be exciting.

"The next two events, in Poland and Finland, are on fast gravel roads which should really suit me."

Hirvonen eventually beat the Citroen Junior Team-run C4 WRC of Sebastien Ogier, which was 'best of the rest', by over a minute, but despite the margin he insisted it wasn't a 'walk in the park'.

Indeed he added that the demise of the likes of Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg on day two all played into his hands.

"I can't say it was easy, but it felt that I wasn't driving absolutely flat-out all weekend," he continued. "I had to push hard, but you had to be careful all the time, not to make any mistakes. It went just like we planned before the rally.

"On Saturday I thought we would definitely lose some time [as I was first on the road]. It was going to be tough to keep the boys behind, with so many uphill hairpins, but then things started to go wrong for everybody but me. I kept on with my own speed and it worked.

"The car was perfect, no problems at all. And no mistakes with Jarmo [Lehtinen - my co-driver], it was perfect, the whole weekend. It's really, really good to be here and win."

So can he take the title and turn things around in the second half of the year?

"We have to turn it around now if I want fight for the Championship. It's been frustrating, for many rallies we have been so close, but not perfect. I need to get everything right.

"The last two rallies have been really, really good. We want a good fight to the end of the season," he concluded.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment