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Mikko Hirvonen
Mikko Hirvonen - 2006 Rally Argentina.jpg
Hirvonen at the 2006 Rally Argentina press conference.
World Rally Championship record
Nationality Finland Finnish
Active years 2002 –
Teams Ford, Subaru, Škoda
Rallies 98
Championships 0
Rally wins 11
Podium finishes 41
Stage wins 160
Total points 405
First rally 2002 Neste Rally Finland
First win 2006 Telstra Rally Australia

Mikko Hirvonen (born July 31, 1980) is a Finnish rally driver currently driving for the BP Ford World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship. He placed third in the drivers' championship and helped Ford to the manufacturers' title in both 2006 and 2007. In 2008 and 2009, he finished runner-up to Sébastien Loeb. Hirvonen's co-driver has been Jarmo Lehtinen since the 2003 season.

Contents

Career

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2002-05

Hirvonen with a Subaru Impreza WRC at the 2004 Cyprus Rally.

Hirvonen won the under 2000 cc Group a Finnish Rally Championship in 2002. As one of the World Rally Championship's younger competitors he made his debut full-time in a third Ford World Rally Team entry in the 2003 season, scoring one points finish for sixth place at the Cyprus Rally.

Hirvonen moved to be a team-mate to 2003 world champion Petter Solberg in 2004 for the Subaru World Rally Team. He scored points in ten rallies, but his best event result was only fourth, at the Rally Argentina and at the season-ending Rally Australia. These performances were not enough to secure a seat for the 2005 season. Hirvonen then campaigned a two-year-old Ford Focus RS WRC 03 and led one rally during the course of the year, and scored a career-best third place finish at the Rally Catalunya as a privateer.

2006-07

Hirvonen driving a Ford Focus WRC at the 2006 Rally Japan.

It was Hirvonen's showings on such events that brought him back to the attention of Ford, whose factory arm signed him for the 2006 season. Hirvonen drove the new Ford Focus RS WRC 06 partnered with Marcus Grönholm. Hirvonen took his first World Rally Championship win at the Rally Australia, and placed second at the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, the Rally of Turkey and the Rally New Zealand. By finishing on the podium for six rallies in a row, he secured a third place overall in the drivers' world championship.

In the 2007 season, Hirvonen started with a fifth place at the 75ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo and a third place at the 56th Uddeholm Swedish Rally. He took his second WRC victory in Norway and later also won the 2007 Rally Japan and the season-ending 2007 Wales Rally GB. He finished third in the driver's championship, 17 points behind Sébastien Loeb. With Grönholm, Hirvonen secured the manufacturers' title for Ford for the second year in running.

2008-09

Hirvonen at the 2008 Rallye Deutschland.

On December 17, Hirvonen was officially announced number one BP-Ford factory driver for the 2008 season, after Marcus Grönholm's retirement.[1] His young compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala was named Hirvonen's teammate in the second factory Focus.[1] Hirvonen started the season with a second place at the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, which was Hirvonens and BP-Ford Team's target.[2][3] In Sweden he was considered favourite,[4] but had to settle for second being unable to keep up with his younger teammate's pace.[5] After disappointing rallies in Mexico, where he had punctures and had to change a wheel, and in Argentina, where he retired from the lead and then re-joined under SupeRally rules to take fifth place, Hirvonen took his first win of the season at the inaugural Jordan Rally.

Hirvonen at the 2008 Rally Catalunya.

Hirvonen took his second victory of the season in Turkey. Despite being the favourite to win at his home event, the Rally Finland, he could not match the pace of his title rival Loeb and finished close second. In New Zealand, Hirvonen was leading when he had a puncture and a spin on the penultimate stage, dropping him to third behind the Citroën drivers Loeb and Dani Sordo. The stage was a disaster for Ford as Hirvonen's team-mate Latvala and Stobart M-Sport Ford driver François Duval both crashed out from second and fifth place, respectively.[6] Hirvonen then dropped eight points behind Loeb in the drivers' championship with only four more rallies to go.

Loeb soon secured his number one spot in the drivers' championship in Japan, but the manufacturers' title fight was still open as Ford trailed Citroën by eleven points. That changed when Hirvonen rolled his car onto its roof in stage five of the season-ending Wales Rally GB.[7] He was bumped down to 44th and climbed to eighth place by the end of the rally. The end of the season saw Hirvonen and co-driver Lehtinen become the first drivers ever to score points on every round of the WRC.[8]

Hirvonen started the 2009 season with a third place behind the Citroën duo at the Rally Ireland. At the Rally Norway, which he won in 2007, he narrowly lost the win to Loeb after a tight three-day battle. He went to finish second to Loeb also in the following two rallies in Cyprus and Portugal. In Portugal, Hirvonen tied the record for the longest points finish streak in the series (22 events) with his former teammate Marcus Grönholm.[9] In the next round in Argentina, Hirvonen was six seconds behind Loeb after 14 stages when his Focus WRC incurred an engine problem.[10] His retirement saw Loeb take a 20-point lead over him in the drivers' standings.

At the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, Hirvonen and Loeb both dropped time on day one in a bid to gain a better road position. After Loeb incurred a puncture, Hirvonen found himself unable to catch teammate Latvala, who had been pushing in front from start to finish.[11] In the following Acropolis Rally in Greece, Hirvonen took his first win of the season. With Loeb crashing out, he reduced the Frenchman's championship lead to seven points.[12] At the following Rally Poland, Loeb crashed again, although recovered to seventh, with Hirvonen winning his second consecutive rally he moved to the top of the standings. In Finland, Hirvonen took the lead on the first proper stage and continued pulling away from Loeb to take his debut win in his home event.[13] A few weeks later,in Australia, Mikko was again in a tight battle with Loeb, where Loeb eventually won. Unfortunately for Loeb his car was found to have rollbar irregularities, as did Dani Sordo and Sebastian Ogier. They were then given 1 minute time penalties, which handed Hirvonen the win and 10 points.

WRC victories

Hirvonen before his first win in Australia.
No. Event Season Co-driver Car
1 Australia 19th Telstra Rally Australia 2006 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 06
2 Norway 2nd Rally Norway 2007 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 06
3 Japan 4th Rally Japan 2007 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 07
4 United Kingdom 63rd Wales Rally of Great Britain 2007 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 07
5 Jordan 26th Jordan Rally 2008 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 07
6 Turkey 9th Rally of Turkey 2008 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 08
7 Japan 5th Rally Japan 2008 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 08
8 Greece 56th Acropolis Rally of Greece 2009 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 09
9 Poland 66th Rally of Poland 2009 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 09
10 Finland 59th Neste Oil Rally Finland 2009 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 09
11 Australia 20th Repco Rally Australia 2009 Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 09

Complete WRC results

Year Entrant Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Points
2002 Mikko Hirvonen Renault Clio S1600 MON SWE FRA ESP CYP ARG GRC KEN FIN
21
GER ITA
Ret
NZL AUS - 0
Subaru Impreza WRC GBR
Ret
2003 Ford Motor Co Ford Focus RS WRC 02 MON
Ret
SWE
11
TUR
Ret
ARG
16
GRC
Ret
CYP
6
GER
13
FIN
Ret
AUS
9
GBR
Ret
16th 3
Ford Focus RS WRC 03 NZL
10
ITA
Ret
FRA
10
ESP
14
2004 555 Subaru World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRC 03 MON
Ret
SWE
9
7th 29
Subaru Impreza WRC 04 MEX
5
NZL
7
CYP
5
GRC
Ret
TUR
6
ARG
4
FIN
Ret
GER
8
JPN
7
GBR
7
ITA
Ret
FRA
10
ESP
8
AUS
4
2005 Mikko Hirvonen Ford Focus RS WRC 03 MON SWE
Ret
MEX NZL ITA
Ret
CYP TUR GRC
5
ARG GER GBR FRA ESP
3
AUS 10th 14
BP Ford World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC 04 FIN
5
Škoda Motorsport Škoda Fabia WRC JPN
Ret
2006 BP Ford World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC 06 MON
7
SWE
12
MEX
14
ESP
9
FRA
4
ARG
Ret
ITA
2
GRC
3
GER
9
FIN
3
JPN
3
CYP
3
TUR
2
AUS
1
NZL
2
GBR
Ret
3rd 65
2007 BP Ford World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC 06 MON
5
SWE
3
NOR
1
MEX
3
POR
5
ARG
3
ITA
2
GRC
4
3rd 99
Ford Focus RS WRC 07 FIN
2
GER
3
NZL
3
ESP
4
FRA
13
JPN
1
IRE
4
GBR
1
2008 BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC 07 MON
2
SWE
2
MEX
4
ARG
5
JOR
1
ITA
2
GRC
3
TUR
1
FIN
2
2nd 103
Ford Focus RS WRC 08 GER
4
NZL
3
ESP
3
FRA
2
JPN
1
GBR
8
2009 BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC 08 IRE
3
NOR
2
CYP
2
POR
2
ARG
Ret
2nd 92
Ford Focus RS WRC 09 ITA
2
GRE
1
POL
1
FIN
1
AUS
1
ESP
3
GBR
2

References

  1. ^ a b "Ford confirms line-up.". Crash.net. 2007-12-17. http://www.crash.net/motorsport/wrc/news/158199-0/ford_confirms_line-up_updated.html. Retrieved 2007-12-18.  
  2. ^ "Ford: We couldn't have asked for more from Mikko.". Crash.net. 2008-01-29. http://www.crash.net/motorsport/wrc/news/159135-0/ford_we_couldnt_have_asked_for_more_from_mikko.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20.  
  3. ^ "Hirvonen: I've started season how I wanted.". Crash.net. 2008-01-27. http://www.crash.net/motorsport/wrc/news/159072-0/hirvonen_ive_started_season_how_i_wanted.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20.  
  4. ^ "Mikko: I really need to win in Sweden.". Crash.net. 2008-02-03. http://www.crash.net/motorsport/wrc/news/159289-0/mikko_i_really_need_to_win_in_sweden.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20.  
  5. ^ "Mikko: I had no choice but to settle for second.". Crash.net. 2008-02-11. http://www.crash.net/motorsport/wrc/news/159563-0/mikko_i_had_no_choice_but_to_settle_for_second.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20.  
  6. ^ "Loeb handed dramatic NZ victory". Autosport. 2008-08-31. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/70190. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  
  7. ^ Hirvonen rolls
  8. ^ Ford: We'll be back
  9. ^ "Longest points finish streaks". World Rally Archive. http://www.juwra.com/stats_driver_points_finish_streaks.html. Retrieved 14 June 2009.  
  10. ^ Beer, Matt (25 April 2009). "Hirvonen forced to retire in Argentina". Autosport. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/74841. Retrieved 14 June 2009.  
  11. ^ Beer, Matt (24 May 2009). "Latvala ends Loeb's winning streak". Autosport. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/75574. Retrieved 14 June 2009.  
  12. ^ Beer, Matt (14 June 2009). "Hirvonen clinches Acropolis victory". Autosport. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/76183. Retrieved 14 June 2009.  
  13. ^ Beer, Matt (2 August 2009). "Hirvonen secures Finland win". Autosport. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/77513. Retrieved 2 August 2009.  

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Sébastien Loeb
Autosport
International Rally Driver

2009
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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