Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen is pleased to see the Monte Carlo Rally back in the World Rally Championship, despite his love-hate relationship with the event.
Hirvonen is a former winner of the Monte, having taken the French Alpine classic on its second season in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, when he was driving a Ford Fiesta S2000. Later this month he and his Citroen teammate Sebastien Loeb will start a WRC round from Valence for the first time since 2008.
Hirvonen said: "Monte Carlo is such a special place, with such long traditions. The championship really has to start from there, but I do have a love and hate relationship with the place.
"When I'm not there, I love it, but when I am up in the mountains with the wrong tires – coming down an icy downhill on slicks – then I hate it. It's a real challenge, though and I am happy to start the season there."
Loeb echoed those sentiments, with the defending world champion searching for a sixth Monte win when the rally starts on Jan. 18.
"It's the comeback of Monte Carlo this season," said Loeb, "and it's important for me to see the rally back. It's like normal."
Loeb and Hirvonen both tested in wet and dry but not snowy conditions in the French Alps last month.
"We have new, softer tires than we have used before [for the Monte Carlo Rally] and we have been trying to find the best setup for each situation," Loeb added.