Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished their World Rally Championship careers with style as they took the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC to second place at Wales Rally GB, just 37.6 seconds behind 2014 champion Sébastien Ogier in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC.
Heading in to Wales Rally GB Hirvonen announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season and it would be his last WRC rally as he concentrates on family life, the Finn certainly proved he was going out at the top of his game as he fought hard to push Ogier and fend off the advances of Mads Osberg in the Citroen DS3 WRC.
A near flawless weekend for the Ford pair wasn’t quite enough to take the win but did secure a second place finish and secure fourth in the championship for Hirvonen; Co-driver Lehtinen would finish the season third place in the co-drivers championship.
“I couldn’t really think of a better way to end my career” said Hirvonen. “We had a great fight all through the weekend and to finish with the second place is absolutely fantastic.”
Talking on the final day of Wales GB, Hirvonen added “Today it was a bit emotional for sure. Before this morning I manage to be pretty on it and concentrate on the rally, but today it was a bit more difficult!
“I just feel really good about the whole weekend. I really couldn’t have asked for anything better and it was the perfect way to end this very special chapter of our lives.”
Team-mate Elfyn Evans who finished the rally in fifth place was quick to wish Hirvonen the best and was honoured to have shared their 2014 journey together.
“I want to wish Mikko all the best” said the Welshman. “I really couldn’t have wished for a better team mate this year. He and Jarmo have been so willing to share their experience over the year and if I can achieve anything like his CV at the end of my career then I would be very proud indeed. It was great to see him end such an influential career with such a positive result and I know that the whole team will really miss him and Jarmo next year.”
M-Sport Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson added “It is such a pleasure to see Mikko and Jarmo end their careers with such a positive result. It’s hard to put into words, but I can certainly say that they have made a lasting impression on the team. They are liked by everyone and will be dearly missed.
“All of us were immensely proud to see him take such a result away from what has been a very special weekend.