Mikko Hirvonen has said he is confident he can mount a title challenge next season and really push Sebastien Loeb, assuming the Frenchman does opt to continue in 2013 and bid for a tenth crown.
Hirvonen heads into Wales Rally GB this weekend second in the 2012 WRC drivers' championship standings, but despite a run that has seen him finish on the podium on seven of the nine events this year – and he won one of those he didn't, losing the victory only after the stewards found irregularities with his Citroen DS3 WRC in post-event scrutineering in Portugal – he knows he will need to step it up a level next year if he wants to improve on the vice-champions slots he took in 2011, 2009 and 2008.
“I think so,” he told Crash.net
, when asked if he can really challenge in 2013. “I have one year [almost] behind me now with Citroen. I have learned a lot. I know which areas to improve and I have a lot more under my belt for next year.
“I just need to push a bit harder all the way from the start and who knows how it is going to be. I think we should be ready to fight for the title.”
“I have to keep the consistency. I need to get all the points like I have done so far [this year]. I need to be really, really consistent again - that has always been my strongest point, but by itself it is not enough. I need to win more rallies as well,” he added.
Asked about the arrival of Volkswagen and the Polo WRC, Hirvonen added that it should definitely make things interesting. He also noted that 'on paper' VW looks to be a strong opponent for both Citroen and Ford.
“It is difficult to say [if we should be worried about VW's arrival]. It looks like they have all the money and the budget to do really well. They are well prepared. They have done a lot of testing this year and they have good drivers. On paper it looks really good and they should be ready.
“But still everything has to work together and it is not guaranteed they will be straight away on top. It will be very interesting at the start of the season to see how they get on,” Hirvonen remarked.
To read the full interview with Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen pre-Wales Rally GB - CLICK HERE