7 September 2013
Rally Australia: Hirvonen eyes victory
Mikko Hirvonen: Our good result in Germany hasn't changed our preparation for Australia, but the momentum gained from winning has boosted the confidence of every member of the team.
Mikko Hirvonen has said he will be aiming to give Citroen its second win in succession on Rally Australia next weekend.
Citroen took the victory on the asphalt roads in Germany last month, thanks to Dani Sordo – who won't be in action 'Down Under' - while Hirvonen was third. That result put Citroen right back in contention in the battle for the Manufacturers' Championship, cutting the gap to Volkswagen from 55 points to just 26, and Mikko is determined now to pick up the baton and give the French manufacturer another triumph.
Hirvonen has done well in Australia in the past, and having won the last three rallies in Oz in 2006, 2009 and 2011, will definitely be one to watch as he looks to keep his record going.
“I'm always happy to come back to Australia,” Hirvonen said. “For someone who loves wide open spaces like me, it's a fascinating country and one that I would love to get to know better. From a sporting point of view, I have won this rally three times, on three different courses. So, it's certainly true that I've enjoyed a lot of success here.
“This year, my aim is to secure a second consecutive win for Citroen. That's definitely what we need to aim for if we want to close the gap to the leaders in the Manufacturers' World Championship.”
“Our good result in Germany hasn't changed our preparation for Australia, but the momentum gained from winning has boosted the confidence of every member of the team,” added the Finn.
“As is the case at every rally, we'll be fighting with some very quick rivals, but we have to be determined in striving to reach our goals.”
Rally Australia was held in the Perth region for many years, but moved to New South Wales for 2009. The event is now located half-way between Sydney and Brisbane in the small town of Coffs Harbour. The stages are run on fairly wide gravel roads and much narrower forest roads. A significant number of the timed stages are new this year and the decisive stage in the rally may well be Nambucca, a 49.9km-long test, run twice on the Saturday.
“We don't know these roads very well, as we have only raced on them once before in 2011, when the roads were also particularly wet,” Hirvonen replied when asked about the character of the event.
“Generally, the road surface is in very good condition, and the stages are held on fast-flowing roads. They aren't difficult to get to grips with, but you need plenty of 'guts' in certain sections in order not to lose speed.
“It's also nice not to have rocks along the sides of the road. In short, you could say it's like a flat version of Rally Finland!” he summed-up with a smile.
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