As per some unwritten rule, they always leave too soon, lured by a call of retirement, of not being forced into huge pressure of performing and constant travel and whatnot. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen had some brilliant rallies and seasons, they finished second in Championship on three occasions, grabbed 15 wins and 259 stage victories. There were also tough times, difficult rallies and periods, but Mikko and Jarmo endured, they pushed on and they refused to give up. I am really sad to see them go, they’re not even that old yet – in fact, by being slightly younger than me, Mikko still counts as a kid in my mind, and kids have a lot of potential. Undoubtedly, Mikko is one of top WRC drivers, he could still be a title contender and win stages and rallies. None of that is gone. But perhaps the desire to do only this and nothing else is. Perhaps that spark is losing its power over Mikko and Jarmo. Whatever it is and whatever they decide to do next, I for one hope it will bring them back to racing or rallying, together or doing separate things. Retired or not, I don’t think Mikko will find it fun and relaxed being away from stages.
Perhaps one day, when WRC turns into a series more open to privateers, we could see Mikko and Jarmo back in competitive action again? Until then, huge kiitos to both Mikko and Jarmo for all the laughs and fantastic drives during their era in WRC. You’ll be missed.