Mikko Hirvonen is confident Ford will be able to take the fight to Citroen this weekend in Germany.
The Rallye Deutschland is the first sealed surface event of the season and following extensive testing on tarmac with the Fiesta RS WRC car, Mikko believes they can get some 'good results', although he is more than aware that the weather could make things extremely tricky in Trier.
“We have high hopes for the Fiesta on asphalt," said Hirvonen ahead of what will be his 100th WRC event for Ford. “From our testing we know it works well on that surface and we believe we can make good results.
“I enjoy driving the German stages when the conditions are dry, particularly in the vineyards where the grip is usually excellent. In the wet however, it's a different matter because the roads become dirty with a lot of mud and gravel dragged onto them.
“Michelin's tyres are excellent on asphalt in dry conditions. If it rains heavily though the roads become incredibly slippery and it's tough for the tyres.
“But it's the same for everyone because the regulations limit our tyre options and we have to work with that.
“The weather is a key factor in Germany and it's possible to win by being lucky. It changes so quickly that every driver can have different conditions on the same stage and if you have some lucky breaks, it can turn the results upside down.”
Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile concurs that if there is precipitation it will make things tough.
“The unpredictable weather can make this a stressful rally. Because there is no dedicated wet weather tyre, it's a compromise between speed and grip if it rains. But at least it's the same compromise for everyone,” he added.
So what is the event like?
“This rally has a little bit of everything,” Latvala continued. “The surface in the vineyards is abrasive with many cuts and tight junctions, and the countryside stages also have many cuts. In both areas a lot of dirt is dragged onto the surface from the cuts, and if it's wet this dirt is muddy and extremely slippery. In Baumholder, the situation is different because you simply must not cut. The roads are wide but are lined with 50cm high hinkelsteins on both sides, so there's no room for error.
“The Fiesta RS WRC is well-balanced though, and it should be strong in the vineyards especially.”