Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen is looking to make a fresh start and claim victory on Rally Finland next week in a bid to give himself a 'bit of momentum' going into the final part of the 2013 WRC season.
Hirvonen has had a difficult year so far, but following the WRC's five-week summer hiatus, he is refreshed and determined to perform on home soil. He really is a local boy too, as he is originally from Jyvaskyla, the base for the event.
The 32-year-old has competed on Rally Finland eleven times thus far - winning it in 2009 and finishing second in 2012, 2008 and 2007, as well as third in 2006 - and as one of the event's 'old hands' he will be out to make the most of that experience and chalk up his first victory of the year next Saturday.
So is he aiming for anything other than the win? “No, although having said that, I wasn't dissatisfied to finish as runner-up last year,” Hirvonen stated in the countdown to the 'Finnish Grand Prix'. “Seb [Loeb] and I fought hard all the way [in 2012], right from the word go, with neither of us holding back at all and without any team orders. I lost a bit of time at the start of the rally and I never managed to make it up, even with two perfect runs on Ouninpohja. That just goes to show how you need to be at 100 per cent from start to finish if you want to win in Finland. This year, I'm going to give it everything,” he vowed.
“There are several reasons why I would like to win my home rally,” he continued. “First of all, it would be the best way of thanking the fans who have supported me throughout the year. It would also be just rewards for the team, which has made every effort possible since the start of the championship. And it would also give us a bit of momentum going into the final part of the season.”
Hirvonen slipped to fifth in the Drivers' Championship following his retirement in Sardinia last time out, and with a 93-point deficit to the leader, Sebastien Ogier, he said his main priority is now the Manufacturers' and trying to help ensure Citroen beat Volkswagen.
“For the time being, my thoughts are mainly on the Manufacturers' championship [as opposed to the Drivers'] and I think we need to focus on that goal,” he explained. “Sure, the team is 46 points behind, but there are still 258 points up for grabs.
“If we are going to close the gap though, we can't be content to finish in second or third place; we need to win rallies,” he concluded.