BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team number one driver Mikko Hirvonen
has said he is feeling confident ahead of the all-new Rallye de France next week.
France has been one of the classic events in the World Rally Championship since it began in 1973, but this year's rally switches from its traditional base on the Mediterranean island of Corsica to a new home in north-east France.
Historic Strasbourg, the biggest city in the Alsace region of France, will host the eleventh round of the series.
It nestles alongside the River Rhine on the border with Germany, between the Vosges mountains to the west and the Black Forest to the east. The rally offers a mix of roads to challenge competitors.
Hirvonen tested close to Strasbourg earlier this week and he was pretty encouraged by how it went: "It was all about finding a set-up for the kind of roads we expect to find on the rally," Hirvonen explained.
"The test roads were narrow and bumpy and the surface changed frequently. We looked at developing a compromise set-up that we believe will work well on the different types of stages we expect to face in the rally.
"I expect many changes of rhythm as the roads change from fast to twisty, and wide to narrow. If the pace notes are accurate then that isn't a difficulty. But if, for example, they are too fast when the road switches from a wide section to a narrow stretch, then it can be trickier.
“I wasn't so happy with my driving on the Friday and Saturday morning during the last asphalt round in Germany, so I hope to improve.
“I'm feeling confident though after a good performance on the last round in Japan," he summed-up.