Mikko Hirvonen has announced he will retire from the World Rally Championship following next weekend's 2014 season ending Wales Rally GB.

The Finn, who made his WRC debut on the Rally GB in 2002 at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza, has gone on to make 162 starts over a career spanning 12 years, notching up 15 wins and 68 podiums in that time.

Considered Sebastien Loeb's closest rival during his dominant WRC years, Hirvonen finished runner-up to the Frenchman on four occasions - three times as a Ford driver and once more when he moved to Citroen.

However, having made a return to M-Sport Ford for 2014, Hirvonen has now decided to call time on his career in order to concentrate on his family life.

"I have so many incredible memories from the last thirteen seasons," he said. "I have had the chance to achieve my childhood dreams! I have travelled all around the world, met some fantastic people and have loved every rally and every fight that I have had with some exceptional drivers. I won some and I lost some but, for sure, I will look back on these moments to the end of my days with a great big smile on my face."

"Throughout the many years of my competitive career, I have focussed on myself a lot. Rallying has taken up a large part of my life and the pace of the calendar has always been fairly unrelenting. I have enjoyed absolutely every minute of it and although I still love driving now, I would also like to concentrate more on other important things which are part of my life, like my children and my family. There are many areas that I have not yet explored and I'd like to give myself the chance to try new experiences."

"Like anyone who loves motorsport, I'm not only a fan of rallying! I have always liked to keep an eye on other forms of racing. But if I get the opportunity to take on a new challenge in the near future, it will above all be for enjoyment. For the time being, I just want to slow down a bit and take the time to find out about the possibilities that might be out there for me."

"I would like to thank all the people without whom the greatest adventure of my life would never have even started. My family, my friends, my co-driver Jarmo, my sponsors, the teams with which I have competed over the seasons, thanks to their work and unwavering commitment and passion. And of course, my fans, who have been there in the good times and the bad times and who have given us their unconditional support and encouragement. A huge thank you to all of you."



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