There were mixed fortunes for M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans and Mikko Hirvonen as Rally Mexico embarked on the first full day of competition today. Evans’ measured approach paid dividends as the rookie finished the day in an impressive fourth place. Unfortunately, there was disappointment for his team mate. Having been in the fight for the lead, Hirvonen was forced to retire with an electrical issue on SS8.

In the Fiesta RS WRC, Hirvonen looked at one behind the wheel. Straight on the pace, the Finn set a string of consistently competitive times over the morning loop to keep the rally lead well within his grasp.

Embarking on the second pass, he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen looked set to challenge further. Having made some positive set-up changes, the Finns had the better of their nearest rivals – reducing the gap between them and second place to just five seconds. Unfortunately it was not to be and after reporting a high temperature on the IDU (injector driver unit), their day came to an end midway through the second pass of ‘Las Minas’ (SS8).

Although Hirvonen now finds himself in a distant 12th position, he has proved that he is more than capable of challenging for rally wins. With more than 250 competitive kilometres left to run, there is still all to play for and the determined Finn will be looking to climb the leader-board when he resumes under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

Mikko Hirvonen (12th) said

“We were having a really good rally so it is really disappointing that today had to end the way that it did. We had made some changes to the set-up in service and I was very happy with the handling of the car – I think you can see that from the times we were setting as we were beginning to really close in on second place. Unfortunately, it was not to be. We had a high temperature reading on the IDU [injector driver unit] before SS8, and that was where our day came to an end. Tomorrow is another day so we just have to see what that brings.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It was great to see Mikko [Hirvonen] fighting for the lead, so it is obviously very disappointing that the day ended the way that it did for him. He was putting in a really strong performance and it’s a real shame for the whole team.