World Rally Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen goes into Rally Australia with a three point lead over defending champion Sebastien Loeb.
Hirvonen extended his lead in Rally Finland as is looking forward to going to Australia. “I love Australia. They are nice, friendly and easy going people like me! I love the country too. Especially out of the towns and cities and into the countryside, it’s really beautiful. I’ve been to Sydney before and the Gold Coast once. I was there for a week a few years ago and I’m really looking forward to going back.”
Talking of his hopes for the rally he said that he has just as much chance of winning in Australia as he has done in others. “I think my chances are as good as they are on any rally to be honest. It’s brand new and I don’t know 100% what to expect. I know I won the event back in 2006 but the roads over on the west coast are very different to what we’re going to experience on the east coast. It’s a gravel surface which suits me and I’m hoping to do well.”
Despite his positive outlook he realises that it isn’t going to be a stroll in the park, “As I’m leading the championship I’m going to be first on the road on the Friday which won’t be easy. It will be easier for me if the roads are wet. It would be great to win the event but I’m thinking the same as I was going into Rally Finland. I need to try and win but if I can’t win, then I need to get as many points as possible – zero points and the fight is over for me for this year.”
Team boss Malcolm Wilson feels that Hirvonen can challenge for the drivers championship this year and says that the manufacturers title “is not out of reach”.