Mikko Hirvonen says he will have to 'wait and see' how competitive he can be in Germany this weekend although the Finn says he is keen to secure at least a podium finish from the latest round of the WRC.
Hirvonen has never finished higher than third in the event and faces a huge challenge if he is to try and fight for victory this time around – given that team-mate Sebastien Loeb has won eight of the nine previous editions of the event.
The Finn did however admit that he feels more at home on tarmac in the Citroen DS3 WRC than he has done in the past and was going into the German event hopeful of securing his best result to date on the challenging Trier stages.
“I've always liked racing on tarmac,” he said. “I was fairly competitive in Corsica and Germany a few years ago. I feel very confident in the Citroen, more than I have ever done on this surface. I had that feeling on the dry stages in Monte-Carlo.
“When I got back in the DS3 during testing, I could see the vast experience of the team on this type of surface. Of course, I tried to describe what I thought about the handling to the engineers, but I didn't feel the need to make any changes to Seb's set-up at all! We'll have to wait and see during the first few stages to find out what level of performance I can achieve. If the conditions remain dry and consistent, I think I can be in contention to at least finish second!”
Hirvonen has finished second on five of the eight events run so far this season with technical director Xavier Mestelan-Pinon praising the way in which the former Ford man has settled into the team.
“Our two drivers are very complementary and they often provide very similar technical feedback,” he said. “If Seb leaves an element to one side that he thinks we can't really improve, Mikko might be able to work on it, using his experience and feel. Sometimes, this works so well that Seb ends up adopting and enjoying the upgrade, and vice-versa.
“When we ran tests in Finland, Mikko knew exactly which points we needed to work on, such as how the car handled on a given jump. Conversely, during tests for Germany, he didn't need to make the slightest change to the set-up, since all the work had already been done by Seb. Being able to count on two such drivers is a real joy for our team.”