2 NOVEMBER 23 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2797
“I have shown the pace to be in F1”
P5 Jean-Eric Vergne topped the young driver F1 testing
WORLD TOURING CARS LOOK TO KNOCKHILL
Scottish track could replace English date in 2012
MIKKELSEN TARGETS BACK-TO-BACK TITLES WITH SKODA
IRC star sets up title defence after renewing deal
BOGIE’S EARLY SURGE HELPS HIM NET BRITISH RALLY CROWN
Read how Bogie triumphed in our full BRC review
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M-Sport boss says that Mikko Hirvonen
WILSON: A PERECT
By James Attwood Mikko Hirvonen will be a “perfect supporting driver” to Sébastien Loeb next year, according to the Finn’s former team boss Malcolm Wilson.
The 31-year-old Finn was officially unveiled as Loeb’s Citroën team-mate last week, sparking a huge shake-up in the World Rally Championship driver market. Hirvonen, who finished runner-up to Loeb in this year’s title race, has signed a twoyear deal with Citroën to replace Sébastien Ogier.
The deal means the end of the occasionally fractious intra-team battle between Loeb and Ogier. It also means Ogier, whowon five events this year, is currently a free agent. Both VWandFord –which has yet to commit to next year’s WRC–are in the hunt for his services.
Hirvonen’s switch Hirvonen has driven for the Ford works team since 2006, and has been its lead driver since Marcus Grönholm retired at the end of 2007. Hirvonen has been one of Loeb’s closest rivals, finishing runner-up in the points to the French ace in 2008, ’09 and this season.
Citroën had Ogier under contract until the end of the 2013 season, but his departure has been expected since Loeb re-signed with the squad for another two years earlier this year (MN, August 24).
Team boss Olivier Quesnel said: “We’re very happy to welcome Mikko Hirvonen and [co-driver] Jarmo Lehtinen. They’ve been our toughest rivals over the last four seasons and we’re really looking forward to our future collaboration. Mikko is a talented driver and his consistency will be a big help in our fight to retain the manufacturers’ title.”
Loeb stays, but nemesis Ogier needs another ride
Ford had an option onHirvonen’s contract for next season, but hewas free to leave because the marque has yet to commit to the WRCfor 2012, and so did not exercise the option. Wilson, whowasHirvonen’s team boss at Ford, reckons that the
Finn will diffuse the tension at Citroën next year. He told WRC.com: “Everybody knows he can play the perfect supporting role, which is what he did for us in 2006 and 2007.
It’s very clear what the strategy is [at Citroën] and
Where will Ogier go next?
who their number one is. It will will It is.
Gooffi so m so me n a h uff where interesting to see but whatever happens Mikko will do a fantastic job. Hewas the only one who could take the title fight to Sébastien inWales, and that also happened in 2009.”
Because Hirvonen is under contract to Ford until the end of the year, he is unable to speak publicly about the switch. After the movewas announced he posted a message on Twitter that said: “It’s been a pleasure working with everyone at Ford andM-Sport. We have a new challenge now. Thank you for the memories.”
Ogier’s options Themain focus of the WRCdriver market nowwill be where Ogier