Mikko Hirvonen believes his second place in Mexico proves that he has recovered from his poor 2010 season and is ready to mount another title challenge.
The Finn fell off the pace after winning last year's season opener, and ended 2010 lacking in confidence and only sixth in the championship. He started this year's World Rally Championship with another round one victory in Sweden, but this time he was able to follow it up with second in Mexico, despite running first on the road on day one, and the Citroens being quicker than Hirvonen's Ford on this event.
"It's a great result from the championship perspective, especially considering the disadvantage of our road position on Friday," said Hirvonen, who now leads the championship by nine points over Sebastien Loeb, having added the bonus for winning Mexico's power stage. "After my difficulties last season, I feel I've rediscovered my consistency and that's so important in mounting a title challenge."
Hirvonen admitted that Ford still had to find more speed, but said he was very satisfied with how its 2011 campaign had begun.
"I didn't have the opportunity to fully test some of the parts on the Fiesta before this rally," he said. "So I'm looking forward to doing that when we test in Portugal before our next rally there. We still have work to do in improving the car, but it's a hugely encouraging start to the season."
Team boss Malcolm Wilson said that Mexico should have been one of Ford's weaker events, so he was particularly delighted to leave with an extended lead in both championships.
"We knew this weekend would be tough, and to leave Mexico having increased our lead in both the manufacturers' and drivers' championships is perfect," said Wilson. "The team learned much about the setup of our cars. We'll use our next test to try to improve further ahead of the upcoming gravel rounds."