Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen
has vowed to do everything he can to improve his fortunes on Rally de Portugal next week after what he freely concedes hasn't been a very 'convincing' start to the 2013 WRC season.
Hirvonen, who will take in the Fafe Rally Sprint today [Saturday] - the warm-up event for the fourth round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship - finished second in Mexico last month to move up to third in the standings.
That means he is now effectively Sebastien Ogier's closest rival, as team-mate Sebastien Loeb
is only due to do two more WRC events this year as he switches his focus to his career away from rallying.
However, with Ogier already 34 points in front, having won two of the first three events, and having finished second in Monte Carlo, the signs aren't good.
Hirvonen isn't throwing in the towel though, and while he knows he needs to up his game, that is precisely what he is intent on doing in Portugal, when the event begins 'proper' next Friday. Indeed he has set his sights on fighting for the lead from the very off.
“No, of course not!” he replied, when asked if he had already given up on winning the drivers' title this season. “It's true that Sebastien Ogier
has made a perfect start to the season, but there are still ten rallies left. Although we haven't looked entirely convincing recently, we are going to do everything to improve our fortunes.
“The five-week break since Mexico meant I could have a fairly light schedule. Apart from promotional work, we obviously did work during specific testing for this rally. I can't go into details about what we worked on, but the fact is that we have improved the set-up of the Citroen
“The car slides less and I felt more confident driving it. As ever, we must be cautious, because the conditions of the rally won't necessarily be the same as those we had in testing.
“However, I only have one target for next weekend: I want to be fighting for the lead from the very start. To win this season, we will need to have a perfect rally, starting with the qualifying stage on the Thursday,” concluded Hirvonen.