Mikko Hirvonen is wearing the wrong shoes. Instead of dainty racing boots, today levering the pedals of his 300bhp Citroen DS3 WRC car is the responsibility of an old pair of Adidas trainers - the kind you would wear down the pub, but be reluctant to play football in.
I point this out. “Ah yes! I kept reminding myself when I left the hotel, ‘I must remember my racing boots’, but I forgot!” He grins. Mikko grins a lot.
He grins when our snapper asks him to hit the jump two thirds of the way round Goodwood’s makeshift gravel stage especially hard. He denies it is even a jump; being Finnish, the moderate crest is a forgettable blip in the dirt. Being English, half an hour later, I silently count the seconds we hang in the dusty afternoon air. My turn to grin.
Mikko has only been round the stage once or twice in the morning and, on the start line, says he can’t completely recall the way. “It might be a little bumpy”, he kids. Aside from the jump (and it definitely is a jump) it is not bumpy; but it is monumentally, brain-splittingly fast.
I know the course is so short and twisty that the DS3 barely has room to stretch its legs, but Mikko - in typical style - attacks it with the kind of ferocity that makes him such a keen favourite with the fans, and me glad that my straps are done up thigh-crushingly tight.