Mikkelsen relieved to be off the leash in Japan

The new WRC2 champion wouldn't have enjoyed competing in Japan had he not secured the crown


Win it or bin it.

That was all that was on Andreas Mikkelsen’s mind as he lined his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 up for the powerstage on Central European Rally.

It had been a tumultuous event for the Norwegian, featuring a stage four crash, some rushed roadside repairs, and then two solid days of biding his time waiting for the chance to score enough powerstage points to put the title beyond the reach of team-mate Gus Greensmith.

As it happened, that’s exactly what Mikkelsen did – giving it everything he had and winning the stage, securing three additional championship points and sealing his second WRC2 title.

Describing his drive through the crucial Passauer Land test, Mikkelsen said: “It was really flat out. Everything was working perfectly in that stage so it was really nice.

“Nice to see the finish flag because it was really a big push.”

But the Norwegian’s reward for persevering on CER wasn’t just a championship trophy. It was also the relief of knowing that he can now go to Rally Japan, the final round of this year’s World Rally Championship, without any need to worry about points.

For Mikkelsen, securing the championship at CER was a huge bonus.

“Yeah, absolutely. It’s a lot better [to take the title here],” said a delighted Mikkelsen, who had an entry for Rally Japan secured as insurance in case he didn’t win the title last time out.

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“What I’m most happy with is that I can go to Japan and drive a normal rally instead of just driving round there securing one point.

“Then it would be the most boring weekend of my rally career so yeah, it is nice to get the championship done here in Central Europe and just focus on Japan to drive a clean, nice, fast rally there.”

The chance to go to Japan came as something of a late-season surprise for the Škoda driver, who started the year with the guarantee of only a part-season WRC2 program.

“The plan was to do four rallies,” he said. “And then we managed to do more rallies and they [Toksport, Mikkelsen’s team] put Japan on the calendar now for us in the last moment so that was really cool.”

With the title in the bag, Mikkelsen is now free to enjoy what will be his first ever rally in the land of the rising sun, and push flat out to try and secure a fourth win from seven starts in what has been another impressive year in WRC’s second division.