On the eve of Rally Finland, Mikko Hirvonen discusses his hopes of repeating his home victory of 2009 in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Q. You spent last Friday in Ouninpohja. Is there a better way to spend the day?
Mikko Hirvonen: Maybe, actually...no. No, there really isn't a better way. It was fantastic. Every run I did, I was smiling and thinking to myself how great everything was. It's a great place to drive a rally car, definitely one of the best roads in the world. I did 380 kilometers in that one day.
Q. Is that a record for a day of testing?
MH: No, not quite. One year I did more than 400 kilometers in a day, but it's definitely getting close. We have basically done the same length of a WRC round every day for the last four days (Jari-Matti Latvala drove for the first two days).
Q. That probably answers the next question: Were there any problems?
MH: No. None at all, we just kept on driving and the car kept on getting better.
Q. You were confident in Finland with the Focus, how does the Fiesta compare?
MH: If I was confident with the Focus, I'm double that with this car. It's just fantastic to drive here – it handles completely different to the Focus.
Q. Because of the changes to the rear suspension?
MH: Yes. It's made the difference, the car changes direction faster; it just works better and gives more confidence. After this test, everybody else [in Rally Finland] had better watch out.
Q. Is the car good enough to win?
MH: Definitely the handling is, but we will have to see the opposition and what they've got from the engine before we know for sure. But really, the way the car is feeling, the handling is so fantastic.
Q. How would the times you set in testing compare with the Focus?
MH: I'm not sure. We haven't tested in exactly the same place and yesterday wouldn't have been a fair comparison because it poured rain, which made the road quite soft. But it was really useful to test in both the conditions, the hot and dry and the wet.
Q. Who do you fear on this rally?
MH: I don't know. Like every rally, I think it will be the usual five: Jari-Matti [Latvala], Sebastien [Loeb], [Sebastien] Ogier and Petter [Solberg]. Like every time in Finland, it will be close for sure, everybody will be fighting.
Q. This isn't Loeb's strongest event, though...
MH: No, but you can never discount him. It's true, though. Sure, he is fast, but quite a few times he's... well, he hasn't given up, but he has been sensible and if he can't keep up then he backs off and takes the points.
Q. Ogier was second and went well last year...
MH: Yes, and he's looking for the win to help is championship this year. He's going to give everything he's got for the win.
Q. Has he got enough?