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Aiming to make Finland proud

Mikko Hirvonen | M-Sport World Rally Team

“Every year Rally Finland is the highlight of the season for me. It’s fair to say that it used to be quite a specialised event but nowadays it provides more of a level playing field. There are so many onboard videos around that the Finns don’t necessarily have the advantage they used to. But we Finns are very proud of this event – of its history and its heritage – and we all want to see a Finnish driver on the top step of the podium again. I would love to be that Finn.”

Hungry for another victory

Sebastien Ogier | Volkswagen Motorsport

“I am particularly proud to have won in Finland last season. However, I am not satisfied with just one win on Finnish soil – I am hungry for more! At the same time, I am also aware that it will be difficult to win there, as the ‘Flying Finns’ in the field will be out to live up to their name at their home rally. In Finland you need a lot of trust in yourself and the car in order to be fast and successful. If you have that trust, then it is an absolute pleasure to drive there.”

Feeling right at home

Hayden Paddon | Hyundai Motorsport N

“Finland is almost a second home for me and [my co-driver] John as some of the roads are quite similar to New Zealand and I have enjoyed the fast nature of the stages. We would like to continue our progression from Rally Poland and continue to get closer to the leaders.”

Counting on his experience

Kris Meeke | Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

“In the second half of the season I’m going to be driving at events that I am already familiar with, and I’m hoping that my experience will count. This will be particularly the case in Finland: at such high speeds, you need perfect lines. We are going to prepare for the rally in the best possible way. If everything goes well, we should be able to fight for a top-three spot… but I know there are a lot of guys vying to finish on the podium!”

Eager for Poland repeat

Thierry Neuville | Hyundai Motorsport

“After the strong result in Poland last month, we really hope we can continue the good work in Finland as well. The target for us remains the same as always: to do the best we can to bring our Hyundai i20 WRC to the finish and help the team to continue the development of the car.”

Out to attack

Jari-Matti Latvala | Volkswagen Motorsport

“My favourite stage will be ‘Mokkipera. It is four years since we last drove that. It takes you uphill and downhill at full throttle and speeds of up to 195 km/h. It sometimes makes your stomach feel a bit peculiar. Having suffered a number of set-backs in Finland last year, I am obviously out to attack again this time around and, ideally, to beat my team-mate Sébastien Ogier. However, you cannot count anyone out – particularly the drivers from Nordic countries. I also believe that my other team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen will be in contention.”

Building on experience

Robert Kubica | RK M-Sport World Rally Team

“I remember when I came here for the first time last year and I thought ‘wow’! This time the speed difference from rally to rally will not be as huge as the Polish stages were also extremely fast. About half of the rally route will be the same this year so at least I know what to expect and what things I should concentrate on during the recce. We will try to prepare as well as we can but it will be our first time here in a world rally car and my driving style has also changed from last year.”

Experienced and confident

Mads Ostberg | Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

“Experience is the key to going quickly on all of the stages. Having competed here eight times before means I have acquired the confidence you need. It is also one of my favourite events. I think that came across last year. I’m expecting it to be a good fight. We’ll need to go at a strong pace from start to finish to try and keep moving up in the overall standings, which is what I have managed to do every year since my first appearance here.”

Taking a natural approach

Elfyn Evans | M-Sport World Rally Team

“I’ve done Rally Finland a few times now but my four-wheel-drive experience is pretty limited and this week will be a completely different challenge when compared to the Ford Fiesta R2 I’ve been more used to on these stages. The most important thing is to be relaxed – to let the driving come naturally.”

Pace notes the key

Andreas Mikkelsen | Volkswagen Motorsport II

“The pace notes and communication with the co-driver have to be perfect, as Rally Finland does not forgive any mistakes. If you don’t drive the perfect line, you soon find yourself at the side of the road. I am certainly not lacking confidence after my runner-up finish at Rally Poland. And the work with my co-driver Ola Fløene is perfect.”

Motivated by knowledge

Juho Hanninen | Hyundai Motorsport

“Because it’s my home rally some people think there is more pressure on my shoulders to achieve a good result but I have learned during my career that stress doesn’t help. On the contrary, I’m even more motivated because it’s the rally I know much better than all the others and everything is much more familiar to [my co-driver] Tomi and I.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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