WRC hero Mikko Hirvonen will be back behind the wheel when he joins Mini for the 2016 Dakar rally in South America.
Hirvonen, who retired from a celebrated WRC career – including three Rally Australia wins – at the end of the 2014 season, will drive a MINI ALL4 Racing.
His time leading up to the 3-13 January Dakar will be spent getting acquainted with his car in selected rounds of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, starting with Spain’s Baja Aragón on 24-26 July.
Mikko Hirvonen, 34, achieved four second-placed finishes in the WRC drivers championship (2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012) and enhanced his popularity by being one of the most fan-friendly drivers in the competition.
He will be joined aboard his MINI ALL4 Racing by experienced co-driver Michel Périn, from France. Périn is a four-time Dakar winner and celebrated his last Dakar Rally win in 2014 when he partnered Nani Roma in a MINI ALL4 Racing.
MINI and the MINI ALL4 Racing has now won the Dakar Rally an enviable four times, the latest and consecutive win came in January this year.
Hirvonen said: “Dakar is such a long race and the dunes there are in a world of their own. So, to finish the event without encountering major issues or without getting stuck anywhere already would represent a really good achievement for my first Dakar.
“Meanwhile, the Baja Aragón is going to be more of the kind of rallying I’m used to. But driving without pace notes in your road book is not so easy and I still have to familiarise myself with the MINI ALL4 Racing as well.
“But should I feel good in the car and everything works well we hopefully will be able to set some good times in Baja Aragon.”