Hirvonen secures double win at the Memorial Bettega Rally

2009 World Rally Championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen warms to The Italian Job with double victory for Ford.
Ford's Mikko Hirvonen ended his rally season in victorious fashion this week by sealing a double win at the Memorial Bettega Rally in Italy.

The 29-year-old Finn powered his Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to victory in Monday night's floodlit sprint in Bologna, before returning on Tuesday to win the main event in front of a 30,000 crowd.

Hirvonen, who finished runner-up in the World Rally Championship this season, was in sparkling form to defeat challengers including former rally world champions Marcus Grönholm and Petter Solberg and Italian hero and nine-times motorcycling world champion, Valentino Rossi.

The 29-year-old Finn beat ex-Ford team-mate Grönholm in the semi-final of the sprint event over a mixed surface, purpose-built 1km circuit. He then defeated WRC rival Sébastien Ogier in the final.

It was the same story on Tuesday. Hirvonen came safely through the qualifying round before beating Grönholm in the semi-final. He again lined up against Ogier in the final, defeating the Frenchman by three race wins to one.

"That was the perfect way to end my season," said Hirvonen. "I enjoy these fun events and it's great to compete against my WRC colleagues without the pressure that comes with a championship rally.

"However, whenever we climb into any race or rally car, we all get that competitive buzz so there was plenty of will to win from everyone out there over the last couple of days. Let's hope I have this winning feeling regularly in the WRC next year!"

Hirvonen's victory completed a successful start to the week. On Sunday evening he was named International Rally Driver of the Year at the prestigious Autosport Awards ceremony in London. On Friday, he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen will collect their WRC runners-up trophies in Monaco.

Related Pictures

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Mikko Hirvonen (fin) Ford Focus RS Wrc BP Ford Abudhabi WRT
Podium, Mikko Hirvonen (FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Podium, Mikko Hirvonen (FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

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