Mikko Hirvonen
Date of birth: 31 July 1980
Lives: Jyvaskyla, Finland
Marital status: Engaged to Karoliina
First rally: 1998
First world rally: 2002 Rally Finland

It would be fair to say that rallying is in Mikko Hirvonen’s blood, as his earliest memory is sitting on his father’s knee learning to drive a rally car on a frozen lake beside his house.

Determined and realistic about his career path, the young Finn decided the best way to learn to drive was in a front–wheel drive vehicle. So in 1998 he made his first rally car purchase, a two–litre Opel Kadett. With his cousin navigating, he entered his first rally and despite going off the road twice, incurring penalties and damaging his gearbox, a delighted Hirvonen crossed the finish line.

Over the next two years his rally activities became a true family affair, with his cousin and sister sharing the co–driver’s seat and the remaining family members helping with the running of the car. In 2000 Hirvonen felt he was ready to take on a new challenge – the first year of the junior Finnish Championship. Open to Group N front wheel drive cars, he upgraded to an Opel Astra and finished a commendable seventh out of 20 competitors.

He set his sights on the 2001 Finnish Championship in a rebuilt Astra. Hirvonen faced his first full year with the prospect of using pacenotes for the first time and enlisted the help of Sirpa Jokinen, whose husband is one of Finland’s most experienced co–drivers at national evel. The experience that Jokinen bought to the partnership saw Hirvonen’s true talent show through, and he led the championship until the very last day of the last round when he hit a rock, relegating him to second.

Buoyed by his success, he set himself a 12–month development programme with help and guidance from manager Timo Jouhki, with the aim of competing in the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship. Hirvonen competed in over 20 rallies in 2002 to gain the experience that would help him achieve this goal. Partnered by Miikka Antilla, he tackled the Finnish Championship and won the F2 category in a Volkswagen Golf Kit Car.

The pair also competed in some Italian asphalt rallies in a Citroen Saxo Kit Car as Hirvonen, becoming more confident with each rally on gravel, was determined to gain experience on asphalt. He also contested part of the Italian Subaru Trophy Championship with Jarmo Lehtinen and three rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship.

His hard work paid off, and in 2003 he found himself at the wheel of a 2002 Focus RS contesting a full 14–round WRC programme. Sixth on the Cyprus Rally was his best result. In 2004 he joined the Subaru World Rally Team, gaining further valuable experience on all 16 events of the championship. His best results came on Rally Argentina and Rally Australia with fourth overall.

In 2005 he drove five events in a privately–entered Focus RS and one with the factory Skoda team. He excelled in the Focus RS, with three top six finishes, including a career–best third on the Rally Catalunya. He joined the BP–Ford line– up for 2006, playing a crucial role in the team’s manufacturers’ world title success. After a string of podium finishes during the second half of the season, Hirvonen claimed his maiden WRC victory in Australia. In 2007, hirvonen added victories in Norway,Japan and Great Britain as he finished thrid in the drivers’ championship and helped Ford claim its second consecutive manufacturers’ title.

Back To Biographies
Ypres 2008 Finland 2008 Finland 2008 Finland 2008