Mikko Hirvonen has expressed his delight after ending his podium drought on Rally de Espana this weekend.

Hirvonen put in a superb drive in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car and held P3 from SS9 onwards, eventually finishing 31.1 seconds up on Citroen's Mads Ostberg, who was fourth.

It was Hirvonen's first podium since Portugal back in April and comes after a trying season for the Finn.

"I'm really happy. It has been too long since we've been on the podium and everything just worked perfectly this weekend. From the beginning we had a good pace on gravel and then really good speed on Tarmac as well," said Hirvonen.

"We had a good set-up and I like Michelin's new tyres. They are a lot more progressive which I think suits me better and they work really well with the Fiesta. Everything just gave me confidence this weekend and we were able to set a really strong and consistent pace as a result.

"I'm really happy - and for Jarmo [Lehtinen, my co-driver] and the whole team as well. We're finally back on the podium and it's great to finish the weekend like this."

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson was also happy to see the Finn step up and do so well, a result that moves the Cumbrian outfit to within seven points of Citroen in the battle for second place in the Manufacturers'.

"Mikko has been absolutely fantastic this weekend - he has a huge smile on his face and rightly so. He drove extremely well, on both gravel and asphalt," Wilson added.

"He and the team worked hard on our pre-event test and found a set-up that really suited both him and Michelin's new tyres. There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes - by Mikko and Jarmo, by the team and by Michelin - and this result is credit to all of those people."

"With just 12 points separating second to fourth in the battle for second place in the manufacturers' championship, I think that it is going to be a very exciting end to the season. If we can secure fourth place in the drivers' standings [with Mikko] along with second in the manufacturers', it would be an absolutely fantastic achievement for the team," Wilson continued.

Hirvonen's team-mate Elfyn Evans meanwhile finished 14th under Rally 2, having re-started after going off on Friday in the penultimate test.

"It's been a difficult rally for us. Friday was very difficult and the two days on Tarmac were okay, but maybe not what we were expecting based on the previous events," Evans noted.

"I made too many silly mistakes on Friday. If we had managed to stay on the road, then I think I would have been happy with the pace but in reality we weren't in any sort of a battle after that.

"Then on Tarmac we had a chance to play around with the set-up to find out what worked well and what didn't work quite so well. Of course we've learnt a lot and as a result we'll be sure to come back stronger next year. Now our attention turns to Wales and our home event. The preparation starts now and I'm determined to end the season with a positive result."



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