BELGRADE, Serbia - BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen will enter the forthcoming Serbia Rally (18 - 20 June) in a Focus RS World Rally Car.
The Finns will use the two-day asphalt event, which takes place during the summer break in the FIA World Rally Championship, as a test session before the WRC season restarts in Bulgaria in July.
Rally Bulgaria is the first of four sealed-surface rallies in the final seven rounds of the WRC season. Three more asphalt events will take place in Germany, France and Spain.
The Serbia Rally is a round of the FIA European Rally Championship Regional Cup (East), as well as the national championships in Serbia and Bulgaria. It is based in Belgrade, which hosts the start ceremony on the evening of Friday 18 June. Two days of competition follow and drivers will tackle 18 speed tests covering 229.14km.
"This will be perfect preparation for the asphalt rallies during the second half of the WRC year," said 29-year-old Hirvonen. "This season has been entirely based on loose surface roads so far, and the last all-asphalt event in which I competed was in Spain last October.
"The Serbia Rally will provide the opportunity for me to shed the rust on this surface in competitive surroundings. It's purely a test session and developing a good feeling again with the Focus RS WRC on asphalt will be the priority," he added.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson said: "Mikko is working hard in his bid for the drivers' championship and we wanted to give him the chance to get used to asphalt driving again. He tested for three days on the surface in England immediately after Rally New Zealand. The Serbia Rally will give the team the opportunity to test some of the things that came out of that session in genuine rally surroundings. It will help Mikko and the team in our preparations for the asphalt rallies to come in the WRC."