Mikko Hirvonen continues to hold his own in his maiden Dakar run, cracking the top five on the Stage 3 time sheets.
Hirvonen's early speed could be attributed to his extensive WRC background and he admits that his previous experience in rally cars here did help.
"It was really nice day. With pace notes, it would have been fantastic! (laughs) It was raining quite heavily in some places, but we got through with no mistakes and pretty consistent with the pace as well. So yeah, we're happy with that."
It's not so special with cars like these to do proper stages. I'm expecting to enjoy it more with the navigation and when it's open road.
Hirvonen went into Dakar with low expectations, hoping to just learn but due to his early pace, will he change his mindset and push harder in the days to come? Unlikely. As the Finn explained, one mistake or misjudged turn "is going to end your race."
"I'm not going to take those risks at this point of the race and maybe not this year."
"Maybe we've been lucky with the conditions as well," the starter of 163 WRC competitions and winner of 15 modestly explained. "It hasn't been so hot and they've been reducing the stages. They haven't been so long so it hasn't been too tricky yet but it's early so I may change my comment tomorrow."
Next up is the marathon stage, which will be a very new experience for Hirvonen, but he's looking forward to being outside his comfort zone as the 'true' Dakar begins.
'I'm going to enjoy it more. It's not so special with cars like these to do proper stages. I'm expecting to enjoy it more with the navigation and when it's open road."
Interview by Khodr Rawi