Mikko Hirvonen admits that Jordan is an event that places special demands on a driver as he prepares for the fourth round of the WRC season this weekend.
The Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver currently leads the championship standings after three rounds, although he is now equal on points with Sebastien Loeb, while Ford heads Citroen in the race for the manufacturers' title heading into the desert event.
Hirvonen has won in the past in Jordan, taking victory back in 2008, but he admits that the nature of the stages make it difficult for drivers who are unable to benefit from the landmarks they would traditionally use on events when it comes to making pace notes, making the already difficult stages even more treacherous.
"On every other rally during the season there is a landmark behind the crests that can be used as a guide to position the car – such as a large rock, a telegraph pole or a tree,” he said. “In Jordan they're absent and all that can be seen is blue sky. A driver can't see which way the road goes over the crest and it makes the accuracy of pace notes crucial.
"The gravel roads are a mix of fast and twisty sections which follow the mountains, but they're incredibly hard. When the roads are clean it's like driving on asphalt, and you can see black rubber marks before hazards where drivers have braked.”
The Finn heads to Jordan on the back of a four-day test in Spain where he was able to sample Michelin's new Latitude Cross gravel tyre for the first time. Ford will use the new tyre this weekend in Jordan.
"I was surprised how strong they were,” he said. “On my second day the road was full of rocks and sharp stones and I didn't suffer any punctures. If they can cope with that, they should cope with virtually anything. The tyres are harder and the car doesn't bounce as much as with the previous rubber, so I made small changes to the suspension settings but nothing major.”