Andreas Mikkelsen sealed his second major international rally title in a week by clinching the 2021 European Rally Championship on Rally Hungary to add to his WRC2 crown.
Having come into the penultimate round of the ERC already 71 points clear of nearest rival Miko Marczyk, Mikkelsen didn’t need to repeat his wins on the previous two events to be sure of the title.
But he could’ve done with fewer headaches than he encountered during the event – with a wastegate problem limiting his Toksport Škoda’s power on Saturday morning, a puncture losing him more ground that afternoon and then suspension damage from an impact on Sunday morning forcing quick roadside repairs.
After that, Mikkelsen was keen for a trouble-free run to the finish and took it steady to take seventh place – which later became sixth due to a penalty ahead (see below).
“It’s been a special week. Two championships in a week… I wish every week was like that, it would be perfect!” said Mikkelsen.
His pair of 2021 titles are his first championship victories since his back-to-back crowns in the current ERC’s predecessor the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011 and ’12.
Volkswagen driver Nikolay Gryazin had won the event on the road by 37s over a charging Mads Østberg, but was later docked 15 minutes for failing to slow at the scene of Norbert Herczig’s accident on SS8.
Local hero Norbert Herczig was on course for second before a violent crash on Sunday morning that left his co-driver Ramón Ferenc with broken ribs.
Østberg meanwhile overcame a Saturday high-speed spin and a Sunday puncture to take an eventual first in his Citroën on his first ERC appearance of 2021.
That wasn’t quite enough for Østberg to take the Hungarian national championship, with third-placed finisher Andras Hadik wrapping that up.
Hadik had been on course for third overall until pipped by Polish champion Marczyk on the final stage – Marczyk giving himself the consolation of a podium on his 26th birthday despite his ERC title hopes ending. The Gryazin penalty brought them up to second and third.
Fellow erstwhile title contender Efren Llarena was fourth, followed by Simone Campedelli.