Ford's World Rally Championship ace Mikko Hirvonen has revealed he was suffering from back problems through the majority of last season – a year in which he came closer than anybody to beating Sebastien Loeb to the WRC title.
Hirvonen, who has started his 2010 season with victory when he collected his first Monte Carlo Rally win last week, says he has no problems with his back now, but the trouble began in May last year.
"It started in Sardinia in the spring, when I got an inflammation," he said. "Before the Acropolis Rally [in June] I actually had to spend time in the hospital.
"It was not really a big problem, when I was driving, but I could not do proper training in the summer. This went on right to the end of the season, all the way to Rally Wales. But it's OK now."
Hirvonen came within a point of winning last year's World Rally Championship before missing out to Frenchman Loeb, who picked up a sixth consecutive award.