Mikko Hirvonen has said he is pleased with the progress he has made on asphalt following Rallye de France.
Hirvonen ran in third place from start-to-finish in his Citroen DS3 WRC car and while he did come under pressure from Ford's Petter Solberg, who closed to within just 0.7 seconds at the end of day one, the fight ended prematurely when his rival crashed out in the first test on Saturday.
Mikko then had a relatively easy run to the end and while admittedly he never had the pace to match team-mate and event winner, Sebastien Loeb, or Jari-Matti Latvala, who took second, the Finn was still happy with his form and P3 overall, which was needed for Citroen to clinch the Manufacturers' title. Indeed coming after a difficult event in Wales, his eighth podium of the season was a welcome boost.
“I had already felt the joy of winning the Manufacturers' title in 2007 [with Ford] and I'm excited to experience it again with Citroen. That's the most important thing this weekend, but for me personally, I'm also pleased with the progress I have made on tarmac,” said Hirvonen.
“I have finished here in the same place as in Germany, but I feel like I have taken several steps forward on this rally. The work that we have done with the team after Germany has definitely paid off. We are doing in a good direction and that is really nice. I'm looking forward to checking this in Catalonia now, but before that, we are going to celebrate this great achievement!”
Pressed on if he can take a win in Italy or Spain, Hirvonen predicted that there will be a 'big fight' on the last two rounds.
“For sure, that [winning an event this year] is something I want to do. Everybody is saying the same thing, but I really think there will be a big fight on these [final two] events,” he continued.
“[Overall] I am just happy to be a part of a team that is so strong, as Citroen is. I think this year we have had both of the cars on the podium on most rallies and we have been really, really competitive.
"We have had no problems really through the whole season and I am delighted to be a part of this.”
Hirvonen's Jarmo Lehtinen meanwhile was also pleased to see Citroen take the Manufacturers': “It's a relief,” he admitted, “the job is done for this year.
“It was part of the plan to help the team get the Manufacturers' title and settle ourselves in with the team. I feel proud to have been part of this,” Lehtinen summed-up.