MIKKO HIRVONEN: He's planning to retire from World Rally championship competition after spending the 2014 season with Ford. Image: AFP
PARIS, France - Finnish rally star Mikko Hirvonen announced on Thursday (Nov 6) that he will quit the sport at the end of the 2014 season after the Rally of Britain in Wales Rally over November 14-16.
The 34-year-old began his rally career in 2002 with Citroen before spells with Ford, Subaru and Skoda. He returned to Ford for this, his last, season.
He’s raced in 192 races, won 15 and finished on the podium 68 times over his 13 seasons and is running fourth in the 2014 championship – but 134 points behind French leader Sebastien Ogier.
'WON SOME, LOST SOME...'
"I have so many incredible memories from the last 12 seasons," Hirvonen said on his website. "I’ve achieved my childhood dreams, I’ve travelled the world, met some fantastic people, loved every rally and every fight I’ve had with some exceptional drivers.
"I won some, I lost some but I will look back on these moments to the end of my days with a great big smile on my face."
Hirvonen finished championship runner-up four times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012), always with his long-time co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen and each time behind Frenchman Sebastien Loeb. He was third in 2006 and 2007.
"They were the greatest battles and the ones I loved the most," he said of his rivalry with Loeb. “Whether they were won or lost, it was fantastic! Seb was a rival and team mate for whom I had – and still have - a lot of respect. I think the feeling was mutual.
"I’ve enjoyed absolutely every minute of it and although I still love driving I would also like to concentrate more on other important things which are part of my life - my children and my family."There are many areas I have not yet explored and I'd like to give myself a chance to try new experiences.”