A FIRE that destroyed Mikko Hirvonen’s Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car during Rally Italia Sardegna last weekend will cost his M-Sport team around $720,000 (more than 400,000 pounds), team boss Malcolm Wilson has revealed.
The three-time Rally Australia winner’s car caught fire on a road section between Special Stages three and four on Friday afternoon and within minutes was a blackened shell.
Flames spread to the surrounding forest and the event was delayed for 80 minutes as fire crews fought the blaze.
Watch the footage of Mikko’s Ford Fiesta on fire!
“The financial implications to replace it are huge. You’re looking in excess of £400,000 ($719,000) and we don’t insure the rally cars, so that’s a big hit,” Wilson told wrc.com.
“If you have a big crash then nearly all the mechanical components are usually OK.
“But with what happened here, there is absolutely nothing we can re-use. Everything is destroyed and it’s a big loss.”
Wilson said that while the most important point was that neither Hirvonen nor co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen were hurt, the cause of the fire could remain a mystery.
“If it had happened on a stage then you could say something has taken an impact. But to clear the stage with a good time and for this to happen while cruising down the road section, it’s quite difficult for everyone to understand.
“Mikko thinks it started from within the right rear wheel. We’ll take the car back to the UK but it will be difficult to identify anything, unless something like the propshaft has broken and gone through the fuel tank.
“Then it will be pretty obvious, even though the car is destroyed.”
The fire was the second major blow for M-Sport and Hirvonen in two events. In the previous round in Argentina, a crash on Friday’s stages cost a reported $135,000 (75,000 pounds) to repair overnight.
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