Mikko Hirvonen announces his retirement

Perhaps not a surprise to some people, Mikko Hirvonen has announced his retirement from the World Rally Championship following next week's Rally GB. Hirvonen returned to M-Sport in 2013 after two seasons with Citroen but has struggled to find the kind of form that brought him within one point of the 2009 WRC title in a WRC career spanning 13 years. The 34-year Finn says he is now looking forward to spending more time with his family.

"Throughout the many years of my competitive career, I have focused on myself and 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."

Hirvonen has made it clear that his professional career is now over but not ruled out a return to motorsport. "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 do 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."

Hirvonen, who has won 15 of his 162 WRC starts spent the majority of his career with M-Sport, driving for the team in three separate stints in both its factory Ford and independent guises, punctuated by seasons with the works Subaru and Citroen teams.

He was quick to pay tribute and thank all the people who have helped him during his career, including family, friends, co-driver Jarmo, sponsors and the various teams he's driven for over the seasons, together with his many fans, who have been there for him in the good times and the bad times providing unconditional support and encouragement.

Hirvonen's place in the M-sport team is expected to be taken by Ott Tanak for next season.

6th November, 2014