by Rob Wilkins

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen believes that tyre changes brought in for the 2008 season will be good for the championship.

All the teams in the WRC will switch from using BFGoodrich tyres to Pirellis this year and in addition not only will there be far less compounds to choose from but run-flat mousse has also been outlawed.

"We have done one test for Monte Carlo and one for Sweden as well [so far] and for sure it will be different to last season," Mikko told Radio at the Autosport International Show. "Now we will have only one tyre compound for the rallies and there will be many moments when we can't choose the right compound for the conditions. It is going to be different.

"But it is just about which team or driver learns to use the tyres best in the different conditions. I think it will be a good change for the championship."

Asked if he thinks he will have to modify his driving style, especially now that anti-deflation devices have been banned, Mikko added that it shouldn't have that much of an influence.

"I don't think it will alter things that much," he confirmed. "In tarmac rallies you have to be more careful in the recce and really check the places where you can cut. But they are making the tyres stronger anyway and so on snow and gravel the driving style is not going to change at all."

Ford team director, Malcolm Wilson meanwhile concurs that the tyre changes will spice things up: "We always say that a rally is never over until you cross the finish line and I think that will be even more so in the future," Wilson added in a separate interview with Radio.

"There is still a great unknown out there at the moment. All it needs is for a driver to throw up one rock and you come round a corner and you are on your line and you can't change it. It is inevitable then that you will probably burst a tyre. You could end up in a situation when you have got a very good lead and coming out of the final corner on the final stage something like that could happen.

"I think it is another dimension that we are going to have to get use to and there is still a lot of tactics to be sorted out. Do you take one spare? Do you take two spares? There are a lot of possibilities and while everyone will be looking for performance, I think we will see drivers' changing wheels on stages."

As for his own thoughts on the decision to out-law run-flat mousse, Wilson, unlike Mikko, does think it will be significant, at least in terms of the tarmac rounds.

"I am not happy that from a safety point of view we don't have it on the asphalt events. On gravel it is different. We can cope and obviously you have always got a lot more forgiveness on gravel. But personally in terms of the asphalt stages and the terrain and where we go for the tarmac events I would be a lot happier if we could still have it," he summed-up.