Monte-Carlo Rally: ŠKODA driver Andreas Mikkelsen wins WRC2 in iconic event for third time
It wasn’t all easy. During the last stage on Saturday, Andreas Mikkelsen had to stop his ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo to change a punctured wheel. Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen finished the job in just over 90 seconds. Incredible in itself, but that wouldn’t have been enough to defend the lead in WRC2, which stood at 23 seconds at the start of this stage. But the pursuers Yohan Rossell / Benjamin Boulloud did not seize the opportunity. In the same stage, the French went off on one of the rare patches of ice and lost nearly three minutes. “When we stopped for a tire change, I thought the fight for victory was over. But this is rallying, anything can happen,” commented Mikkelsen.
He didn’t give bad luck a second chance. Mikkelsen/Eriksen completed the four stages on Sunday without further problems. Not only did they win the WRC2 class by almost a minute, they also finished seventh overall. “Perfect work from Torstein. We had only done a few kilometers together in the car before the ‘Monte’, but he delivered the notes exactly as I needed them,” praised Mikkelsen for his new co-driver. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. I am also happy to give this victory to the team, they really deserved it.
Already in 2021, Mikkelsen won the WRC2 in the legendary season opener at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo from German team Toksport WRT. He celebrated his first victory in the Rallye Monte-Carlo category in 2017 as a member of the official ŠKODA Motorsport team.
Mikkelsen’s Toksport WRT teammates, Nikolay Gryazin and co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov of Russia, reclaimed third place overall in WRC2. They lost almost three minutes after hitting a rock on Thursday (stage 2). “It’s good to have a podium and to score points, because we are working for the championship,” concluded Gryazin. At the same time, the 24-year-old driver took second place in the new WRC2 Junior category. Britons Chris Ingram/Ross Whittock, 2019 European Rally Champions, finished fourth in the junior category.
As in the WRC2 general classification, two ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crews made it to the WRC2 Masters podium. The Italians Mauro Miele/Luca Beltrame won the new category reserved for drivers aged 50 and over. Former ŠKODA works driver Freddy Loix and Belgian navigator Pieter Tsjoen followed in third place.
The FIA World Rally Championship then heads to Scandinavia. Rally Sweden (February 24-27, 2022) is the second round. To ensure optimal winter conditions, the tradition-rich event has moved its base from Karlstad to Umea further north in the country.
Result Monte-Carlo Rally (WRC2)
1. Mikkelsen/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 3 h 12 min 06 s 6 s.
2. Cais/Těšínský (CZE/CZE), Ford Fiesta Rally2, +55.4 sec.
3. Gryazin/Aleksandrov (RAF/RAF), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +2:07.5 min.
4. Johnston/Kihurani (USA/USA), Citroën C3 Rally2, +3:08.7 min.
5. Munster/Louka (LUX/BEL), Hyundai i20 N Rally2, +3:14.2 min.
6. Rossel/Boulloud (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, +3:28.3min.
7. Ingram/Whittock (GBR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +3:46.6 min.
Day number: 6
ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crews have won WRC2 stage victories in six of the 16 regular Rallye Monte-Carlo tests. Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen were the fastest four. Russian Toksport WRT teammates Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov dropped out of WRC2 competition over two legs.