Mikko Hirvonen

Nationality Finnish World Rally Championship record Active years 2002–present Teams Ford, Subaru, Škoda Rallies 113 Championships 0 Rally wins 13 Podiums 45 Stage wins 180 Total points 577 First rally 2002 Neste Rally Finland First win 2006 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. 2002-05 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 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 On December 17, Hirvonen was officially announced as number one BP-Ford Abu Dhabi factory driver for the 2008 season, after Marcus Grönholm's retirement. His young compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala was named Hirvonen's teammate in the second factory Focus.Hirvonen started the season with a second place at the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, which was Hirvonens and BP-Ford Team's target.In Sweden he was considered favourite, but had to settle for second being unable to keep up with his younger teammate's pace. After Rally Mexico, where he had punctures and had to change a wheel, and in Rally 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 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 a 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. 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. He was bumped down to 44th as a result, and managed to climb back up to eighth place by the end of the rally. This result meant that Hirvonen and co-driver Lehtinen become the first WRC drivers ever to score points on every round of a season. 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. In the next round in Argentina, Hirvonen was six seconds behind Loeb after 14 stages when his Focus WRC incurred an engine problem. 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. 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. 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. 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.