M-Sport World Rally Team's Mikko Hirvonen will bring twelve years of experience to the year's only mixed surface WRC round, hoping to cement his grip on fourth place in the individual standings.

With Volkswagen's trio having sewn up the top three positions following Andreas Mikkelsen's podium finish last time out in France, Hirvonen is keen to ensure that he finishes as 'best of the rest', and sees the tricky gravel and tarmac event in Spain as an opportunity to make his experience count.

The RallyRACC - Rally de Espa?a is the WRC's only true 'dual surface' event and the M-Sport driver feels well prepared for the challenge that lies ahead. Following an opening super special stage on the famous Montju?c roads above Barcelona, crews embark on a day of predominantly gravel speed tests before making the move to asphalt for the remainder of the event.

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"We have competed here every year since 2003 and it is an event that I enjoy," he confirmed, noting that Spain provided himself and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen with their first WRC podium in 2005.

"As the only mixed surface event of the year, the biggest challenge is making a clean shift from one surface to the next. Going from gravel to tarmac, we'll need to get into gear fairly quickly. The car feels different, the grip levels are different, the braking points are different, and you need to have the confidence to make it count on the very first stage. If you're not 100 per cent happy with the handling of the car then you could easily lose a lot of time on Saturday morning.

"I'm looking forward to the gravel stages on Friday, but we also had a really good tarmac test with the new tyres so I'm feeling positive about that too. These roads are very different to the ones we drove in France. They're a lot wider and the tarmac is a lot smoother, so we needed to find a set-up that would work best in these conditions. I think we did that, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Hirvonen currently holds fourth position in the drivers' standings and will be aiming to strengthen his ten-point advantage next weekend.

"There will be a lot of drivers with a point to prove and a lot to gain, but if we can be in the fight for the top positions then I think it could be a good event for us," he concluded.