Mikko Hirvonen has said that he will be gunning for Dani Sordo on day two of the Rally Ireland tomorrow as he looks to try and haul himself up from third place to second.

Hirvonen made a solid start to the 2009 World Rally Championship season and finished the rain-soaked opening leg in third, 20.4 seconds adrift of the runners-up spot.

Mikko opted for Pirelli's standard soft compound PZero tyre this morning, but like most of those not on the winter tyre, struggled for grip and consequently ended the loop in P3, behind Urmo Aava and Sebastien Loeb.

The Finn switched to the winter-tyre this afternoon and while he was more comfortable and managed to consolidate his position, he slipped further behind Loeb and was also overhauled by Seb's team-mate.

Speaking at the end of the day, the 28-year-old admitted that he had had a few lucky escapes, particularly in the morning.

"There was more water than I expected on the first loop, so much so that it was like driving through watersplashes, and I lost control completely in a couple of places," he recounted. "I wasn't so happy with my tyre choice. It was a 50-50 decision but I think the winter tyre would have been better.

"I hit a bump on the first stage too and the impact damaged the light pod. It left the lights facing the wrong way and pointing straight at me through the windscreen. I couldn't see for the glare - but it took me about 5km before I realised all I had to do was to switch them off!

"In the afternoon I was happier because I was more confident with the tyres. Considering it was 7?C and the roads were soaking wet, they worked amazingly well for a winter snow and ice pattern.

"I lost a few seconds on the final stage [SS6] when I almost overshot a junction and stalled the engine as I hand-braked the car round. Dani Sordo is in my sights though as he is just 20sec ahead. Tomorrow's stages are faster so I hope I can pick up time on him."

As for the decision to cancel the two night tests, Mikko was disappointed, especially as he reckoned he could have made up a bit of ground.

"It's a shame tonight tests were cancelled because I enjoy driving in the dark and it would have been exciting. I'd hoped to regain some time on Dani in those stages," he added.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was relatively pleased with how Hirvonen performed, especially after Jari-Matti Latvala binned the sister car in the second test.

"It was the best start to an asphalt rally that I can remember with Focus RS WRC cars holding first and second, but sadly it didn't last. Jari-Matti made an excellent tyre choice but was caught out in difficult conditions. His retirement put the team under pressure but Mikko responded well to hold third in what was a solid day," he summed-up.



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