BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson has given Mikko Hirvonen a boost following the Finn's first outing with the squad as their number one driver on the season opening Rallye Monte Carlo last weekend.

Mikko, who has now taken on the role of team leader after Marcus Gronholm retired, eventually finished the event in second place overall, 'best of the rest' after Sebastien Loeb.

Furthermore while the 27-year-old was more than 2 minutes down on Seb and was unable to match the Frenchman's pace - or that of Daniel Sordo for that matter, who was sidelined with engine problems in the #2 C4 WRC - the result wasn't that different to '07. Indeed last year Gronholm was also unable to match the Citroens and he finished in third, 1 minute 22.8 seconds off P1.

Speaking at the finish, Wilson noted he was impressed with Mikko's approach to the event: "There was a lot of pressure on Mikko but he filled the slot left by Marcus Gronholm and I'm impressed with the job he did," Malcolm confirmed. "I couldn't have asked more in terms of the result."

Ford of Europe motorsport director, Mark Deans meanwhile was also happy and he was very pleased to see five Focus' in the top ten, with 'B' team members Francois Duval, Gigi Galli, Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson coming in fourth, sixth, ninth and tenth respectively for the Stobart squad.

"To finish the most famous rally in the championship with five cars in the top ten leaderboard was a great result for Ford. It sets the level that we must aspire to for the rest of the season, and I'm confident we can live up to that," Deans added.

The only disappointment for the 'Blue Oval' was that Jari-Matti Latvala had a difficult event and only finished twelfth in the #2 BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT entry [see separate story].

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