Hirvonen tries rallycross for size
"It’s a fun sport"
Mikko Hirvonen has followed in the footsteps of his former factory Ford team-mate Marcus Gronholm by taking part in a fully-fledged rallycross event.
Although Hirvonen learned his trade in the Finnish amateur version of rallycross before his rally career took off, his appearance at the Sotkan Moottoristadion in Kauhajoki marked his first proper rallycross outing.
Fittingly the 30-year-old was at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta, albeit an older shape version of the Fiesta RS WRC he uses in the world championship alongside co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.
Hirvonen, currently 17 points behind Sebastien Loeb in the WRC drivers’ standings in second position overall, was competing in the fourth round of the Finnish Rallycross Championship last Saturday (16 July).
He was eliminated at the B final stage when his 530bhp engine malfunctioned and forced him to retire. The Rally Sweden winner was eventually classified eighth in the Supercar standings, which Harri Arola headed in a Mazda RX7. Jari-Pekka Kokko took the A final laurels.
Speaking to Finnish TV station YLE, Hirvonen said: “Driving here didn’t do any damage and the mind and nerves are staying sharp, which is very good. I had a great day and while the car gets away from the line very nicely, compared to a WRC car it’s different to drive so it took some time to get used to. It’s a fun sport, the cars are getting better all the time and the racing is tough.”
Gronholm tackled selected European Rallycross Championship events in 2008 and was a regular in the US-based Global Rallycross series this year. He will also take part in the rallycross section of the X Games in Los Angeles at the end of July, the same weekend as Neste Oil Rally Finland, Hirvonen’s next WRC event.
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