Mikko Hirvonen, Ken Block interviews
- 5th March 2010, 8:57am
This weekend, the World Rally Championship returns to action in Mexico. Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, driver of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS, heads to Mexico with the season-opening rally win in Sweden under his belt.
American Ken Block, driver of the Monster World Rally Ford Focus RS, also heads to Mexico with a 2010 rally win after capturing the 100 Acre Wood Rally in the Rally America series last weekend. However, this race will mark Block's WRC debut in a Focus RS, as he campaigns a limited schedule in that series this year.
The win for Block marked the fifth straight time he had won the 100 Acre Wood Rally, but it marked the first win for Fiesta in Rally America and Block's first win with Ford. Both drivers participated in a Ford Racing Global teleconference yesterday.
MIKKO HIRVONEN - driver, BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS
YOU WERE A PRIVATEER DRIVER IN 2005. CAN YOU GIVE KEN ANY ADVICE FROM THAT EXPERIENCE YOU HAD SEVERAL YEARS AGO?
"You just have to go all out. It's useful to get the experience, but at the same time it's good to go and try to find some speed and produce some good stage times. Nothing more that I can say, really, you just have to go as fast as you can and still try to get some experience."
YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO GET MORE EXPERIENCE ON TARMAC. WERE YOU ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH THAT DURING THE OFF-SEASON?
"I was so busy after the season and over the Christmas break that so far I haven't done anything really yet. We have a plan on what we're going to do. We're for sure going to do testing on tarmac as well. I'm just trying to find time to do some training on circuits. I'm trying to find some more speed and maybe find a new way of driving. It's still coming. I'm still making plans for that."
WITH THE FIESTA, THE CAR KEN IS DRIVING IN RALLY AMERICA, COMING TO WRC NEXT YEAR, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FIESTA?
"I did run a (Fiesta) S2000 in Monte Carlo. It's for sure a bit different than a World Rally car, but it was a good experience and very important for the team just to get to know where we are with the new car. We got some really good information from the Rally. I've done one Rally with it, but that's all that I've done."
WHAT PLAN DO YOU HAVE GOING INTO AN EVENT LIKE RALLY MEXICO?
"I just try to run as hard as I can. You have to if you want to fight against all of the other drivers out there. All of the drivers who are out there can actually go very fast in all of the Rally stages so every day, every stretch you just have to go flat out."
KEN BLOCK - driver, Monster Energy Focus RS
YOU'RE COMING OFF YOUR 100 ACRE WOOD RALLY AMERICA WIN. DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE ABLE TO CARRY SOME MOMENTUM GOING INTO YOUR FIRST WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT THIS WEEKEND?
"Last weekend was a very successful weekend. It was a really difficult weekend also, adjusting to a new car and on gravel, having to adjust set- ups constantly. I'm very lucky to have won that event five years in a row, but this was the toughest one. It's a great feeling coming away from that, going into this big event with some positive things going on, but really this is like comparing apples to oranges. It's so much more difficult than doing a Rally America National event. We had nine hours today during recce, and I have my notes from three years ago. I think the roads have changed some, and I struggled a bit today trying to adjust and get the notes as good as I can to get ready for the event. I think that's going to be a whole new struggle for me, and on top of that getting used to a whole new car. I'm really stoked to be here. It's going to be an amazing event, and I'm just looking forward to learning the car and going as quick as I can."
WHEN YOU RUN YOUR RECCE ON AN INTERNATIONAL EVENT LIKE THIS, DO YOU AND ALEX HAVE ANY NEW PLANS TO GET DIFFERENT KIND OF NOTES THAN YOU GET IN THE U.S.?
"No, I mean the main thing I've been doing is simplifying some because with a quicker car, Alex [co-driver Gelsomino] needs to get our information out in time as we're actually moving faster down the roads. We've actually just had to simplify the notes. That's the main thing. Instead of like 'stay in,' we just use the word 'in,' simple modifications like that. My main goal this weekend is to finish with a clean run so I can get as much experience in the car as possible."
WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THE NOTES FROM ALEX ARE YOU LISTENING TO DIFFERENT CLUES IN A FASTER CAR LIKE THE FOCUS?
"Basically the same thing, just a little bit simpler. I really got to understand a little more over this weekend how my notes add up to what's going on in the car and in what gear, where I can really go flat out in, because obviously this is a million times different than the car I was in last weekend. It's a matter of getting used to it and doing the best I can."
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