M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans faced a challenging second day of competition at Rally Australia, but both Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers remain on course for a solid result in fourth and ninth places respectively.
Hirvonen may have lucked out in the intense battle for the lead, but the determined Finn won’t be giving up on a solid finish this weekend. Pleased with his driving through the morning loop, the M-Sport man put in a highly consistent performance but was disadvantaged having taken a competitive risk for the afternoon.
With a high chance of heavy rain predicted in the vicinity of the stages, the number five Fiesta RS WRC was clad with five of Michelin’s LTX Force soft compound tyres. But as the downfall failed to materialise, Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen had to contend with extreme tyre wear for the unexpected dry and dusty conditions.
Thankfully, there are few crews more reliable and acute to the characteristics of this challenging event and the pairing were able to minimise any potential time loss – maintaining a strong 40 second cushion between themselves and their nearest championship rival, Mads Østberg.
Mikko (4th) said:
“It didn’t rain and, as we took the soft tyre, we were expecting it to. The tyres were completely gone and it was really tricky. We just had to do all we could not to lose too much time to the boys behind and in that respect I think we did really well. There’s still a big gap to Mads [Østberg], and one day to go with some more difficult stages, so let’s see what happens.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s a shame that Mikko [Hirvonen] lost ground this afternoon as we didn’t get the rain on the stages that had been predicted. Thankfully, he was able to limit the time loss and, with another difficult day to come, remains in a strong position to challenge for a top position.