BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen has admitted that the Swedish Rally is one of the ones he will need to win if he is to stand a chance of taking the 2008 drivers' title.

Mikko's performance in Monte Carlo recently was hailed by team director Malcolm Wilson and now the Finn will been keen to build on the runners-up spot he took at the Principality and go one better in the Varmland region of central Sweden.

Hirvonen has done the Swedish Rally five times to date, taking his best result last year when he brought his Focus RS WRC car home in third. A week later he went onto win the inaugural Rally Norway, the last winter event in the WRC.

As such expectations are very high, not that Mikko believes he is 'the favourite' to take gold.

"Everyone is asking if I feel I'm the favourite," stated the 27-year-old. "There are a few possible winners and I'm one of them, but I don't regard myself as the favourite.

"There's a little pressure, but I felt pressure in Rallye Monte Carlo and had a good result there.

"This is the first rally that I'm really thinking I have to win if I want to fight for the drivers' title."

Asked about the conditions, he added that he is hoping it is a proper winter event - although with snowfall lower this year and temperatures warmer it remains to be seen precisely what conditions will be like.

Mikko is also none to happy with the final leg, as there will only be a remote service zone splitting the second loop through Ullen, Lesjofors and Rammen.

"I hope the conditions are full winter," Mikko continued. "If there's a lot of snow and ice then Pirelli's tyres will work well.

"Reliability will also be important because there is no traditional 30-minute service in the middle of the day, just a 15-minute remote service using only spare parts carried in the car.

"I don't agree with that because if a car has a minor problem early in the morning then a driver can be stuck with it for the rest of the day. But the Focus is a reliable car so I'm not too concerned."

Ahmed Hussein, deputy director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, meanwhile is convinced that Mikko - and Jari-Matti Latvala - will shine: "After the excellent result in Monte Carlo, we are looking forward to the Swedish Rally with interest.

"The conditions should suit Mikko and Jari-Matti well and we are hopeful that they will be able to record an even more impressive result, with the full backing of the Abu Dhabi-partnered BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and its enormous experience and expertise," he summed-up.



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