Mini, X-Raid, John Cooper Works, Magna, KS Tools, Delta, Recaro, AlpineStarhttp://www.mikkohirvonen.com/
After years of battling on the roads and tracks of the world rally championship, Mikko Hirvonen has become much more epicurean. The pleasure to drive now comes second to the joy of being with his family and to see his three boys grow up. But as January approaches, he is ready to return to action. And behind this genuine quest for adventure, Hirvonen remains a competitor. Awed by the images of fellow Finns Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen flying over the dunes in the African deserts, he never imagined being in their place. The first experience of the four-time runner-up in the WRC (behind the unbeatable Loeb), was however not the most adventurous, in the sense that he impressed with his speed and ability to quickly adapt. He won his first stage and finished fourth in his maiden Dakar, but then he suffered last year. When asked if he was disappointed with his result (13th), he replied to the contrary in that he returned from his South American adventure with many stories to tell. Having spent valuable time with his family and only having competed in three events this season, Hirvonen comes into the Dakar fresh in his Mini for his third Dakar alongside new co-driver Andreas Schulz (winner in 2001 with Kleinschmidt and 2003 with Masuoka). After coming up short in his quest for the podium last year, his goal is the same for 2018. A good result and especially an enjoyable time…
M.H.: “My first Dakar was a nice experience and I was thrilled to have finished with a good result. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. I came from traditional rallying and I was searching for something different, an adventure. Last year, the result wasn’t very good but I had fun. The harder it is, the more stories there are to tell and I really enjoyed my adventure. I was soon 3rd, then 5th, then we got lost and everything went wrong. We lost reverse gear, we ran into a truck and we broke our radiator. I still needed to gain experience. I battled against some guys who have already done 20 Dakars. I am not interested in doing too many races. That is why I had to change my co-driver: Michel (Perin) wanted to do the entire rally-raid season. I just want to concentrate on the Dakar. It is fantastic to be on hand for the 40th edition, to be part of a rally that has such a history, but I am still a relative newcomer to the discipline.”
Mikko Hirvonen was second at CP1, 7 seconds behind his team-mate Orlando Terranova, but has lost ground on the way to WP2. The former WRC driver now trails the stage leader by 3’43’’.
Mikko Hirvonen was fighting for the stage win, but he has been stationary at km 107 for quite a while now. Teammate Orlando Terranova has stopped with him, probably to help him repair his car.
Mikko Hirvonen has been discrete since the start of the rally but perhaps the terrain in Bolivia is more suited to the former WRC driver. The man from Finland, driving an X-Raid Team Mini buggy, has the second best time behind Carlos Sainz after 50 km of the special.
Mikko Hirvonen is in danger of losing all his hopes in the general standings. The Finnish driver has been at a standstill after 113 km of the special for more than 45 minutes! Yazeed Al Rajhi has stopped beside him to help him repair his Mini.
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