FINNISH star Mikko Hirvonen says his first elite-level win at Rally Australia in 2006 will be one of the best memories of his 13-year career when he retires from the WRC after next week’s Wales Rally Great Britain.
Hirvonen sealed his maiden victory at the Perth-based event after five consecutive podiums in an M-Sport Ford Focus RS WRC.
“Victories are really special and the first win is something you work for all your young life,” he recalled this week.
“When you start to drive, you hope that some day you will be good enough to win a rally and it was amazing when I did that. It was one of those career moments I’m most proud about.”
Hirvonen’s first win was the last Rally Australia run on the country’s west coast, but when the event returned to the WRC calendar in 2009 on the New South Wales Tweed Coast he was back on the top step of the podium, although in controversial circumstances.
The rally had been won on the road by Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb, but soon after the event scrutineers identified an ineligible suspension part om his Citroen C4 and the resulting penalty elevated Hirvonen unexpectedly from second to first.
Hirvonen won a third time in 2011, the first year Rally Australia was staged 300kms farther south on the Coffs Coast.