Mikko Hirvonen has won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally in the new M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car after leading from start to finish on its competitive debut.
Ford’s official FIA World Rally Championship team driver mastered treacherous winter conditions in the mountains of southern France to reach the finish at Monaco’s famous harbour nearly two minutes ahead of Skoda’s Juho Hanninen (Finland).
The 29-year-old from Finland held the lead from the opening stage on Wednesday to claim his first win on the legendary event. Although Frenchman Sebastien Ogier closed to within 38.3 seconds of Hirvonen, the Peugeot 207 driver’s bid for a second successive win in the Principality was cruelly ended when he retired on the road section heading to the penultimate stage.
The Fiesta S2000 never missed a beat over the five-day Monte Carlo Rally which covered 405 competitive kilometres, providing a perfect start to the 2010 campaign for Hirvonen.
The expertise of the Finns, runners-up in the 2009 world championship, proved invaluable behind the wheel of the exciting new Fiesta S2000. The rally also provided them with an ideal warm-up for the forthcoming WRC season, which begins in Sweden next month.
“The Monte Carlo Rally is one of the world’s great rallies and it’s a big thrill to win here,” said 29-year-old Hirvonen. “It was a long, hard event and the conditions made the challenge even tougher. This car is brand new to competition but everything worked perfectly from the first kilometre. That’s a tribute to the whole team, and particularly the people who put in so much effort over the last two weeks. To start the season with a win is a big confidence boost. I enjoy the winning feeling and I want to carry on like this when the WRC starts next month in Sweden.”
The Monte Carlo Rally was the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), for which M-Sport is a registered contender.
“It’s a dream debut for our new Fiesta S2000,” said M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson. “We led from the first stage to the last and didn’t experience a single problem, which is hugely encouraging for a new car. Mikko drove at exactly the pace he needed to win and his feedback will be crucial in our further development of the Fiesta.”
Top-10 Positions : Monte Carlo Rally
1. Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Fiesta S2000 4:32:58.5
2. Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula Skoda Fabia S2000 +0:01:1.4
3. Nicolas Vouilloz/Benjamin Veillas Skoda Fabia S2000 +0:03:19.1
4. Stephane Sarrazin/Jacques Julien Renucci Peugeot 207 S2000 +0:07:25.5
5. Jan Kopecky/Petr Stary Skoda Fabia S2000 +0:08:48.7
6. Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh Skoda Fabia S2000 +0:09:24.5
7 .Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes Peugeot 207 S2000 +0:09:45.4
8. Jean-Sebastien Vigion/Stephane Prevot Peugeot 207 S2000 +0:13:33.5
9. Jaroslav Orsak/Karel Vajik Skoda Fabia S2000 +0:21:16.6
10. Andrej Jereb/Miran Kacin Peugeot 207 S2000 +0:25:26.1