sport

Hirvonen eyeing podium finish

Mikko Hirvonen will go "all-out" to achieve his objective of securing a podium finish at Rally Argentina after coming up short in Portugal.

The Finn battled hard against reigning champion Sebastian Ogier in Faro but ended the race 43.2 seconds behind the in-form Frenchman, who now leads the World Rally Championship standings by 29 points.

But M-Sport Ford's Hirvonen knows 30-year-old Ogier has never won in Argentina and is eager to deny his rival the chance to clinch his fourth victory of the current season by breaking his duck in Cordoba.

"We were really happy with the result in Portugal, and we'll be hoping for a bit more in Argentina," Hirvonen told wrc.com.

"When everything is working well, we know that we have the car and the pace to be challenging at the top, and that is what we will be aiming for.

"It's a tough event - even to be in the fight for the podium - but we will definitely be going all-out to do that.

"We want to be battling for the top positions. That is the minimum objective, but we also know that we will have to work hard to achieve it."

Ogier leads the standings with 91 points while Jari-Matti Latvala - Ogier's team-mate at Volkswagen Motorsport and the victor in Sweden this term - is 29 points behind.

Latvala's hopes of success in Portugal were ended by a crash and he is keen to enjoy a smoother ride in Cordoba.

He said: "The rally suits my driving style, but is not easy.

"If you're not careful, you can hit a large stone as soon as you push yourself to the limit - particularly on the second loop.

"As such, you always have to give yourself a little breathing space, in order to be able to react quickly if necessary.

"I would be very happy with a podium finish. We did not have the best of times in Portugal.

"The key now is not to make any more mistakes and perform as consistently as we did at the first three rallies of the year."

After finishing third in Portugal, Mads Ostberg (Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT) is only behind Ogier and Latvala in the standings with 48 points. He leads his fellow Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen by 12 points.

"Argentina is in my top five favourite rallies," Ostberg said. "Our preparation has been perfect.

"I am working on my driving style in order to be more competitive. We have managed to achieve some good results with the engineers.

"It's a long process, which isn't going to work overnight, but the pace at which we are improving already is very promising.

"The goal is the same this year. This event is as tough as ever. We'll need to be consistent.

"The aim is to come away with a good result. Depending on the conditions, we'll see if we can push a bit more."