IMG_5863 Sun podium J LEHTINEN-M HIRVONEN Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Jeremy Rogers)

THREE-time Rally Australia winner Mikko Hirvonen will retire from the FIA World Rally Championship after next week’s season-ending Wales Rally GB.

The 34-year-old Finn announced his decision today after 13 years at the top, including Rally Australia wins in 2006, 2009 and 2011.

With 162 starts in the WRC, 15 wins, 68 podium finishes and a four-time runner-up in the World Rally Championship, Mikko Hirvonen has enjoyed a very full and successful career.

Since making his WRC debut in 2002, he has experienced some unforgettable moments in world rallying.

“I have so many incredible memories from the last 13 seasons. 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,” he said.

“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.”

Hirvonen now feels the need to devote more time to his family.

“Throughout the many years of my competitive career, I have focussed on myself a lot.

“Rallying has taken up a large part of my life and the pace of the calendar has always been fairly unrelenting. I have enjoyed absolutely every minute of it and although I still love driving, now I would also like to concentrate more on other important things which are part of my life, like my children and my family.

“There are many areas that I have not yet explored and I’d like to give myself the chance to try new experiences.”

The new challenges that may interest Hirvonen do not necessarily mean he will be making an immediate return to racing:

“Like anyone who loves motorsport, I’m not only a fan of rallying. I have always liked to keep an eye on other forms of racing.

“But if I get the opportunity to take on a new challenge in the near future, it will above all be for enjoyment. For the time being, I just want to slow down a bit and take the time to find out about the possibilities that might be out there for me.

“I would like to thank all the people without whom the greatest adventure of my life would never have even started. My family, my friends, my co-driver Jarmo, my sponsors, the teams with which I have competed over the seasons, thanks to their work and unwavering commitment and passion.

“And of course, my fans, who have been there in the good times and the bad times and who have given us their unconditional support and encouragement. A huge thank you to all of you.”


Just one rally…

It’s really difficult.. There have been so many great rallies, so many great fights. I can honestly say that I loved them all. I really can’t choose just one, but I can say that some were particularly significant. Our first win in the World Rally Championship at Rally Australia in 2006 was a very special moment. Our win at Wales Rally GB in 2007 was also very special. I remember the podium that I shared with Marcus (Gronholm) and Seb (Loeb). Chronologically, the last of my top three but the first in my heart was the win at Rally Finland, on home soil and with my family and friends. That’s a unique memory.

Just one fight…

I would say the many fights I had with a single driver: Sébastien (Loeb)! They were the greatest battles and the ones I loved the most, whether they were won or lost. It was fantastic! Seb was a rival and teammate for whom I had and still have a lot of respect and I think the feeling was mutual.

Just one racing car…

I would say the Ford Focus. It’s the car in which I have contested the most rallies and in which I had my greatest successes.

Just one year…

Again, I don’t think I can choose just one. Some were fantastic, others were difficult, but that’s part and parcel of racing. I loved every one of them and I have no regrets about these 13 years of passion, pleasure and happiness.

Just one word to talk about Jarmo (co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen) …

“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 13 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!


Starts: 162

Wins: 15

Runner-up: 28

Podium finishes: 68

Number of stage wins: 259

Points scored: 1,192

Longest run of consecutive wins: 4 in 2009

(Acropolis Rally – Rally Poland – Rally Finland – Rally Australia)

Longest run of consecutive podium finishes: 8 (2009 Rally Sardegna to 2010 Rally Sweden)

Longest run of consecutive points finishes: 22 (2007 Rally Japan to 2009 Rally de Portugal)

Most wins at a single rally: Rally Australia (2006 – 2009 – 2011)



First Rally – Laihia Rally (Finland) – Opel Kadett


First WRC rally in a privately-run Renault Clio Super 1600

Finnish Rally Champion (Group A)


First full works season – Ford

First points scored in the WRC with 6th position at the Cyprus Rally


Subaru works driver


First podium finish – Rally Catalunya – privately-run Focus WRC 03


Rejoined Ford as works driver.

First win: Rally Australia

7 podium finishes

3rd in the Drivers’ World Championship

Manufacturers’ Title for Ford


3 wins (Rally Norway – Rally Japan – Wales Rally GB)

Finished in the points on 15 out of the season’s 16 rallies

3rd in the Drivers’ World Championship

Manufacturers’ Title for Ford


3 wins

11 podium finishes (out of 15 rounds)

Runner-up in the World Rally Championship for the first time


11 podium finishes (out of 12 rounds)

4 consecutive wins

Runner-up in the World Rally Championship for the second time


1 win

2 podiums


2 wins

8 podium finishes (out of 13 rounds)

Runner-up in the World Rally Championship for the third time


Joined the Citroën Racing works team

10 podium finishes (out of 13 rounds)

Runner-up in the World Rally Championship for the fourth time


5 podium finishes (out of 13 rounds)


2 podium finishes (out of 13 rounds)

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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