FIA World Rally Championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen will drive the record-breaking Ford Focus RS World Rally Car in the Race of Champions in China next week
The 29-year-old Finn, who missed out on a maiden world drivers' title by just a single point in Wales last weekend, will compete in both the ROC Nations Cup and the Race of Champions itself in Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium – home to the 2008 Olympic Games.
The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver will partner former team-mate Marcus Grönholm in the Finnish team in Tuesday's Nations Cup team event, before taking on stars from various motorsport disciplines in Wednesday's Race of Champions individual competition.
Rivals will include Formula 1 stars Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard, former 500cc motorcycle world champion Mick Doohan, Le Mans 24 Hour winner Tom Kristensen and X Games multi gold medallist Travis Pastrana.
Hirvonen will drive a variety of vehicles at his maiden ROC appearance, including the familiar Ford Focus RS World Rally Car which he drove to second place in Wales on Sunday. The car has now scored points on a record 119 consecutive world rallies, dating back to the start of the 2002 season. M-Sport, Ford's senior partner in WRC, has provided three white Focus RS WRCs, which will appear in a special Race of Champions livery.
"After the disappointing result of last weekend's Rally of Great Britain, I'm looking forward to the fun of the Race of Champions," said Hirvonen. "I won't have to worry about points and world championship positions in Beijing. But that doesn't mean I won't be taking it seriously. I'll be as keen to win as every other driver and it will be good to link up with Marcus again in the Finland team for the Nations Cup. Just like the old days!"
Hirvonen, co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen and Ford team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila will be at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend as guests of one of the team's principal partners. Also in attendance will be Ford of Europe motorsport boss Gerard Quinn and BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson.