Mikko Hirvonen took a dominant victory at Rally Serbia, winning by a margin of over 7 minutes – though his task wasn’t as easy as you might expect.
The Finn was competing in the FIA European Rally Championship Regional Cup (East) round to gain experienced on sealed surface events, with four asphalt rounds to come on the WRC calendar this year, including Rally Bulgaria in a few weeks time.
Hailstorms and torrential rain were the order of the day on Saturday, the constantly changing conditions so severe rally organisers were forced to cancel one of the day’s stages just because of the weather.
The first day wasn’t a very productive won for Hirvonen and his Ford team – the awful weather meant tyre choice was unpredictable, and little work could be done to find a better setup. Sunday was much more settled – a dry morning loop of stages was followed by more rain, but not to the same degree as the day before.
Hirvonen eventually cruised to victory by the huge margin of 7 minutes and 39 seconds.
“It’s more than eight months since the WRC’s last asphalt round, so Serbia was all about shaking off the rust and finding a good feeling behind the wheel of the Focus RS WRC on that surface,” he explained. “The weather during the first leg was awful and it was impossible to predict what set-up and tyres would be the right choice for the changing conditions. But that can happen in the WRC too, so it was good experience to learn how to drive like this.”