Not everyone in the WRC can be a good bloke, but we can’t imagine there’ll be too many people willing to say a bad word about Mikko Hirvonen. And that’s why, at the age of 34, it’s a real shame to see the likeable Finn announce his retirement from top level motorsport. The upcoming Wales Rally GB will be his final WRC event.
Hirvonen and long-time co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen have started 162 rallies together, collected a total of 15 wins, 68 podium finishes and but for an incredible run of championships from Sebastien Loeb could have hoped for more than being four-times runner up in the WRC.
“I have so many incredible memories from the last thirteen seasons,” Hirvonen said. “I have had the chance to achieve my childhood dreams!
“I have travelled all around the world, met some fantastic people and have loved every rally and every fight that I have had with some exceptional drivers. I won some and I lost some but, for sure, I will look back on these moments to the end of my days with a great big smile on my face.”
Co-drivers often get left in the background and Hirvonen’s thoughts on sharing a car with Lehtinen are worth sharing: “‘Privilege’, because it has been a privilege to work with Jarmo. None of this would have happened without him.
“We met for the first time at Helsinki airport in 2001, before flying to Italy where we were meant to be competing in our first rally together. It was the beginning of a great friendship.
“In these thirteen years, full of laughter, adventures, wins, losses and passion, we have experienced everything together. And I know that it’s not over yet! We’ll share many more experiences, because there are still a few great pages to be written in our notebook!”
Whatever the future holds for Mikko and Jarmo we wish the very best of success.
M-Sport thank Mikko for a decade of dedication
Following the announcement of Mikko Hirvonen’s retirement from the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of 2014, M-Sport look back on the Finn’s celebrated career and the countless successes he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen achieved alongside the team.
Having formed an instrumental part of the M-Sport squad in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014, Mikko and Jarmo gave almost a decade of dedication to the Blue Oval. The pairing were instrumental in securing Ford’s back-to-back World Rally Championship titles in 2006 and 2007 and delivered 14 victories behind the wheel of M-Sport machinery.
Throughout their celebrated career, the duo has accumulated 259 stage wins, 68 podiums and 1192 World Rally Championship points. They finished as runner-up in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships on three separate occasions with Ford and were one of nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb’s most fearsome rivals.
As a Ford man through and through, Mikko’s dedication and commitment will not be forgotten. The Finn has long been a popular member of the M-Sport family – liked and supported by all. As he bids farewell to the WRC, M-Sport wish him and Jarmo every success and all the very best for the future.
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jarmo [Lehtinen] have given the team so much over the years and I look back on our time together with a lot of very happy memories. They formed one of the sport’s most successful partnerships and we shall not forget their talent, determination and commitment.
“They were instrumental in securing back-to-back World Rally Championships for Ford and each of their 14 victories with us holds a lot of very special memories. A lot of crews have passed through our doors, but few were held in as high a regard as Mikko and Jarmo who have always been immensely popular members of the team.
“I speak for everyone at M-Sport when I thank them for everything we achieved together and wish them every success and happiness for the future.”
Head of Ford Racing in Europe, Gerard Quinn, said:
“Over the years it has been a real pleasure to work with Mikko [Hirvonen] in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Both he and Jarmo [Lehtinen, co-driver] left a lasting impression on Ford racing history and became our most successful Ford pairing in the WRC with 14 victories to their name.
“We worked together on the development of the [Ford] Fiesta RS WRC and my proudest moment was when they took the car to victory on its first outing at Rally Sweden in 2011 – one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar.
“Always willing to share their experiences, Mikko and Jarmo were firm advocates of our junior programmes – assisting with the training of the next generation of drivers and co-drivers. Safety in the sport of rally is paramount and I also know how passionately both have supported the campaign for safety in rally as well as on the public roads.
“I wish them every success in their new ventures and thank them both for being professional ambassadors of the Ford brand.”