World Rally Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen has hit back at Sebastien Loeb's criticism of Rally Finland for being too fast.
The five-time WRC champion spoke out against the Jyvaskyla-based event in this week's AUTOSPORT magazine, stating that he felt the rally was too high speed and too dangerous for the modern era of the sport.
"For me, a lot of the stages in Finland are too fast," said Loeb, who won in Finland for the first time last year. "I don't like them so much on the driving side. I'm sure it's very exciting to watch, but it's not so special in the car."
Hirvonen disagreed with Loeb's appraisal of his home event, saying: "Poland was even faster [than Finland] and the Monte Carlo Rally is even more dangerous.
"In Monte Carlo, we are going with the wrong tires and on icy and snowy mountain roads. Every rally has its dangerous side. In Finland maybe that danger is the trees and speed but there are so many things in other rallies that are so dangerous. I wouldn't be so straight to say that about any rally."
Loeb had said that "you have to go over the limit more in Finland than anywhere else," but Hirvonen had no sympathy for his stance.
"Don't forget, he won here last year," said the Ford driver. "He needs to get used to driving beyond his limits – that is what we are doing all of the time to try and beat him. At least he knows how we all feel."
Despite his criticisms of the event, Loeb still managed to set the fastest time at this morning's pre-event shakedown stage in Finland.