BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen has conceded that the best man won the Swedish Rally - and that his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was just too quick.

Mikko eventually finished the event just under a minute behind his compatriot and while he was disappointed not to have taken the victory, especially as many thought he was the favourite prior to the off, he still had quite a major consolation.

Namely that the result puts him top in the drivers' championship - a position he has never held before - and with Sebastien Loeb failing to score, he now leads the Frenchman by 6 points, although admittedly it is still very early days, as Sweden was only round 2 out of 15.

"I came here to win but Jari-Matti made it clear on Friday that he was the man of the rally so I had to settle for second," said Hirvonen.

"He was too good - we couldn't catch him and then we concentrated on the Drivers' Championship. Six points ahead is a very good start. I've never led the championship before and I'm sure I will have more battles with Jari-Matti.

"Jari-Matti and I may be two young lads in the Ford team but we proved that we can still take a 1-2 finish and showed how strong the team is.

"I was frustrated I couldn't find a rhythm on Friday but then I eased my pace because I wanted to make sure of the points. I've always said that if I can't win this year, I must finish second and that's what I did."

Pressed on when he realised he wouldn't be able to challenge for the win, Mikko added that he knew the writing was on the wall on day 2.

"Saturday morning [was when I knew I couldn't catch Jari-Matti]. The plan was to attack, but then I couldn't get the best out of myself on the first two stages," he explained. "He drove so consistently. I thought: 'Okay, let's get to the finish and take eight points'."

Asked about the conditions during the event, which were rather different to the norm due to the mild weather - temperatures hovered around the zero degree mark over the three days, whereas last year they dropped as low as -26 in the northern Hagfors region - he added it definitely made things tougher.

"It was not easy for anyone," Mikko continued. "It was so warm we had lots of gravel and mud. Then there was slush and snow on the road, the grip was changing all of the time. It was a very difficult weekend."

The WRC now heads to Mexico and as he leads the championship he will have to run first on the road on day 1 there, something he concedes won't exactly help his cause.

"It will be tough. I haven't tested the [new Pirelli] gravel tyre - that's next week. There will be loose gravel and we will sweep the road. It's going to be interesting - right through the year," he summed-up.



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