Hirvonen aims for Ford extension

“I’d certainly like to stay”

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By www.wrc.com

31 August 2011 - 17:43
Hirvonen aims for Ford extension

Mikko Hirvonen wants to extend his tenure with the factory Ford team for his shot at next year’s World Rally Championship crown.

The Finn, who heads to Rally Australia next week third in the drivers’ standings, has been a member of the Blue Oval’s works team since 2006 when he partnered Marcus Gronholm.

He won his first WRC event with Ford in Australia that season and has since gone on to claim a further 12 victories with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen. On ADAC Rallye Deutschland earlier this month he started his 100th world championship event with his employer.

After taking over from Gronholm as team leader for 2008, he came within one point of beating Sebastien Loeb to the world championship 12 months later. Since then, however, his form has dipped to the extent he was won only two events. His current Ford deal expires at the end of this season.

“I’m still not sure what the situation is about Ford’s commitment at the moment, but I have always had a good time with the team, so I’d certainly like to stay,” the 31-year-old told Motorsport News.

If Hirvonen was able to secure an extension to his Ford deal then it’s likely he would partner countryman Jari-Matti Latvala, who is under contract with the car make for the 2012 season.

Speaking during ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Latvala said: “If Ford is continuing I will be here. The main focus is for Ford to get the contract to carry on [in the world championship].”

Rally Australia is based in Coffs Harbour from 8-11 September. Hirvonen was victorious when Australia last appeared in the world championship in September 2009, sharing a Focus RS WRC regular co-driver Lehtinen.

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