Mikko Hirvonen claimed four stages win from a possible five on the final day of Rally Ireland, but that still wasn't enough to put him ahead of Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.

While Hirvonen never looked likely to trouble Loeb, who comfortably won, he seemed to be in contention to take the runners-up spot - or at least be able to challenge for it, until a power steering problem on Saturday morning ended his hopes.

With a comfortable margin over his pursuers, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man then elected to ease his pace and settle for third, although he did show what might have been possible on Sunday when he topped the times in all but one of the tests.

"Yes and no," he replied when asked if he was happy with P3. "Of course I'm always hoping for more but we knew it was going to be very difficult against Citro?n on tarmac and in the end I am happy to have six points because it is a very good start to the season.

"But after Friday I was hoping I would have a fight with Sordo but it ended up there was nothing much I could do."

Despite saying he was happy though he conceded that the mechanical issue on day two was frustrating.

"Even when the car was okay, I wasn't able to take much time out of Sordo," he continued. "I managed to be close and we might have put some pressure on him, but the power steering broke and there was nothing we could do about it. It's a shame."

Jarmo Lehtinen, Mikko's co-driver, echoed those sentiments: "For sure, we came here to take more points than six points but after the problem yesterday it was frustrating just cruising around," he added.

"Yesterday afternoon was the longest afternoon for a long, long time. Today it was a lot easier when the sun finally came up and we can say we enjoyed tarmac rallying again, but we had a good tyre choice and the stages were drying up and generating some grip. It was fun today but unfortunately it was too late."

Mikko's focus now shifts to Norway, and he won the round there last time out in 2007. He will be aiming to do exactly the same this year too.

"I am definitely going to try. It is a rally I like and if conditions are perfect for sure we can have a good fight there," he concluded.



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