M-Sport World Rally Team's Mikko Hirvonen is convinced he will be able to fight during the 2014 WRC season and challenge for victories, despite having to settle for eighth on Rally Mexico last weekend.

Hirvonen's best result so far this year was his fourth place in Sweden in February, but he was happy with his Ford Fiesta RS WRC car in Leon and was running a strong third before electrical issues on Friday afternoon, in SS8, put him out.

Rejoining under Rally 2, the Finn then climbed back up the leaderboard and eventually scored five points - four for eighth and one bonus point for setting the third best time in the event ending Power Stage. In total he posted 14 top-five stage times (from a possible 18) - including going second quickest in SS4 and SS16 and third in eight other tests.

Related Articles

"It was a real shame that we had the problem on Friday, but that is part of the game sometimes," Hirvonen reflected philosophically after the third round in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship. "We would certainly have been fighting for the podium - maybe even the second place as well - but there are still a lot of positives to take from this event."

"I believe we can definitely fight as the season goes on," he added.

"We were able to try a few things with the car over the last couple of days, and I am feeling really happy with what we have learnt. We have a few ideas on how we can make further improvements and with more testing coming up I think we can develop even more and be a real threat on all of the rallies."

M-Sport boss, Malcolm Wilson meanwhile reckons the Finn has now got his 'spark' back.

"It was good to see Mikko get his spark back," Wilson confirmed. "The problem on Friday was a real disappointment for the team, but the way he fought back proves that he has lost none of his ambition or his determination to win.

"He goes to Portugal with his confidence high and the potential to be a real contender for the top positions," Wilson concluded.