by Rob Wilkins

Russell Brookes believes that BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen can win the drivers' title this season - and that the Finn just needs to go for it, beginning this weekend on the Rally Catalunya.

Hirvonen currently trails Sebastien Loeb by eight points and while the odds seem to be stacked in the favour of the four-time world champion, Brookes reckons that with four events left it is still open.

Indeed speaking exclusively to Radio at the recent Castle Combe Rallyday, the two-time British Rally champion added that in his view Hirvonen and Loeb still have a pretty equal chance of coming out top in this year's World Rally Championship.

"Go for it - it is the only thing to do. There is no way you will win a championship like that by pussyfooting around and I am sure he will be trying as hard as he can," Brookes replied when asked if he had any advice for Mikko ahead of the back-to-back asphalt events in Spain and France.

"It is still open - although assuming everybody finishes each event without too much trouble eight points can seem a long way. But you don't run through every event without a problem and it just depends on the way the dice falls now. I think he is in there with an equal chance of winning the title."

As for what he thinks of the sport now compared to his day, Brookes conceded it doesn't seem to have quite the same pull.

"I think it use to be better than it is now, but then I am an old guy and I would say that," he continued. "But I have to take my hat off to some of these modern drivers. In my day when we did the World Rally Championship we use to get almost unlimited periods of practice.

"I remember going to Corsica and we spent six weeks practising for the event. Nowadays they are allowed over the special stages just three times at slow speeds - once to make the notes and twice to check them - and then boy do they go flat out on those pace notes. They are really skilled at it."

So what would he like to see done to the WRC in the future?

"I'd like to see it become a bit more adventurous. The rallies could do with being a bit longer and there is an over emphasise on these single service points to the detriment of the sport. Also I'd like to see more night stages included. I believe people miss those and spectators miss the excitement of them. If you had a bit more variety and added a bit more endurance into the events they would be very, very good indeed," he summed-up.




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