We couldn´t start 2015 in a better way. With Pedro Lima´s partnership of Zoom Motorsport, we have an exclusive interview with Mikko Hirvonen, one of the best rally drivers, who retired from competitions at the end of the last season.
Mikko Hirvonen is one of the remarkable names of the world of rally. He was born on 31st July of 1980 and started in WRC in 2002. He was fundamental to Ford in 2006 and 2007 when they conquered the manufacturers’ title. He was second in the world championship drivers in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, being the only driver capable of beating Loeb´s domination. 162 entries in rallies, 15 victories and 69 podiums. These are excellent results for an excellent driver. Find out Mikko´s answers to our questions.
What made you take the decision of retiring, after 14 years at the highest level?
I wanted to have more time with my two boys and my family. They are growing up quickly and I don’t want to miss that anymore. Those 13 years have been for me and my races but now is time to give them more time and share more the things of life with them.
Do you still remember your first victory? What did you feel?
Yes, of course I do! It was in 2006 in Australia. Well, it felt amazing! The first victory in WRC is always really special and it was a fantastic moment.
I would say the victory in Rally Finland in 2009. It was my first victory at home with my family and friends so it was definitely tasty
Your “fight” with Loeb was always very close and in 2009 it reached, most probably, its highest. Do you regret not being champion that year?
No, I really don’t have any regrets. Of course I was disappointed because it was so close but in a way the most fantastic that year were the battles we had. It was so close all the time whatever was the result. The sensations were amazing and I’m not gonna regret that!
Who do you consider the best rally driver of all time?
Which was the most difficult moment that you lived on WRC?
I can’t pick one moment. We had good and bad moments but I can’t really pick one in particular. Bad moments are part of the game but they also teach us to be stronger.
Looking back on time, do you think that WRC maintains the same spirit?
Yes, I think that so far it’s the case. Of course if we take the older times it has changed. We don’t have unlimited recces or testing like before and the rallies are shorter but the spirit still the same. We fight like hell, on the limit to be the fastest in many different conditions with fantastic cars during 3 days. This is rally.
Do you agree with the new rules for 2015? What do you think it should be done to keep WRC on the route to success?
For 2015, nothing has really changed appart the fact that the drivers will not be able to have the splits in the car. But for me, we just need beautiful battles in all the categories and we need to show something else than the 3 first cars of the rally. That’s for me what would keep the WRC on the success. Rally is a beautiful sport and we don’t need to change it to make it more interesting.
“Ouninpohja”! Of course
What do you think about Rally de Portugal? In your opinion, it should be done at South (Algarve) or at North?
I love Rally de Portugal. It’s a very nice race and for me it’s really good that the rally is going back to the North. The Fafe Rally Sprint made me understand how the rally is a real passion in the North and it’s a really good thing! I’ll miss that but maybe I’ll go there as a spectator. Really would like to feel that atmosphere.
Now that you retired from WRC, what are your future plans?
Enjoy the time with my family, discover new experiences in or out of motorsport. But I would not be keen on doing a full championship anywhere for the moment.
Work hard and believe in your dreams.
Finally, do you want to leave a message to your thousands of Portuguese fans?
Actually, the biggest part of my fans are Portuguese so they are really special for me. So I would say : “Muito obrigado por tudo!” You are amazing and your support have been really important for me over the years.
Thanks to Mikko Hirvonen´s kindness to answer our questions, wishing him all the best to his future. We are going to miss him in WRC but his name will not be forgotten, which is a thing to be proud of. On behalf of the Portuguese fans, we say “kiitos Mikko”.
Thanks to Pedro Lima, for allowed us this great experience.
Images in mikkohirvonnen.com
Portuguese version in:
Chicane Motors team.