Having recently moved from Ford’s World Rally team to Citroën, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen overcame extreme conditions to win the 2012 Rally Finnskog in Norway.
Snow, ice and temperatures around -22°F were conditions all entrants had to endure, but as the leading team, Hirvonen’s Citroën DS3 WRC was first on the road and had to clear the way for pursuing drivers. Despite this, the pair finished 30.5sec ahead of their nearest rival.
Hirvonen had entered the event, which is not part of the WRC schedule, in order to prepare for the second round of the World Rally Championship this week. It proved to be the perfect “warm-up” for his DS3 WRC as he gets to grips with the car’s handling.
Competitors were greeted with arctic conditions for the one-day rally, which featured 72 miles of special stages through forests in the Norwegian region of Svullrya. The event consisted of four timed stages, each to be completed twice, interspersed with three 30min service periods. The Citroën DS3 WRC began the first loop in the best possible fashion, setting the fastest time on all four stages, despite being first out on the road.
“Our feeling with the car improved the further we went. Going first meant we had to clear the fine layer of snow covering the frozen ice,” explained Mikko. “We thought the conditions would be better on the second runs, but they turned out to be more difficult after the other competitors had completed their runs.”
The Citroën crew held onto their lead in the second loop to claim top spot on the podium.
“We are very happy to have won, and especially to have beaten the other WRC teams competing here. This has confirmed we had found the right set-up during testing. The conditions were similar to those we will have on Rally Sweden, so we’re feeling confident,” said Hirvonen.