Mikko Hirvonen will finalise his preparations for the World Rally Championship title decider in Great Britain later this month by driving in the Cambrian Rally in north Wales next weekend.
The BP Ford
Abu Dhabi World Rally Team #1 will pilot a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car in a non-competitive safety car role just ahead of the 150-car entry.
The Cambrian Rally is based in the seaside resort of Llandudno and will include 72.30 kilometres of speed tests over gravel roads in Clocaenog and Penmachno Forests - once legendary special stages in Britain's world championship encounter themselves.
Hirvonen won this rally in 2002 as one of the sport's rising young stars in a privately-entered car and it used to be a regular test session for teams warming up for the WRC round.
"After three days competing on the asphalt roads of Rally de Espana last weekend, it's important for me to regain a good feel on gravel ahead of Rally of Great Britain," Hirvonen explained. "Driving on the Cambrian Rally in a competitive environment will improve my familiarity with the nature of the Welsh forests.
"It will be the perfect way to ready myself for what should be a thrilling final round of the WRC."
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile is also convinced that the outing will be beneficial ahead of the 12th and final round of the WRC, which starts in Cardiff on Thursday, October 22.
"Although Mikko won't actually be entered on the rally, his role as safety car means he will drive at competitive speeds so it's a great and unexpected opportunity for fans to see the Ford team in action.
“The Cambrian Rally will be the ideal way for Mikko and [co-driver] Jarmo [Lehtinen] to focus on the week ahead, which will be the most important few days of their rally career. They will take a one-point lead to Rally of Great Britain so we expect the most exciting title fight in recent years."