Andreas Mikkelsen will return to selected WRC2 rounds this year with one aim: to beat everybody and place his name at the top of a factory team’s shopping list for 2024.
The 33-year-old makes his first start in a rally car this season in Qatar on Thursday, but it’s the Rally of Portugal in May that’s really catching his eye. After missing out on a Hyundai seat he thought was his own, Mikkelsen is determined to fight his way to where he believes he belongs.
“In the optimal situation I would do the full WRC2,” Mikkelsen told DirtFish, “but it’s difficult to get sponsorship for that. What I will do is some rounds of WRC2 – but I’m not interested in going to Kenya or places like that, I want to go to the rallies where we know everybody will compete.
“This is going to be events like Portugal or Finland, those events where the competition is really high in WRC2. I want to go there and I have to beat everybody. OK, I know there could be a puncture or something like that, but I have to show that I am the fastest and that I am the right person to get back to a Rally1 seat next year.”
Mikkelsen took the WRC2 title in 2021 and narrowly missed out last year, despite what he felt was a strong performance.
“Last year was one of my best seasons in terms of the performance,” the three-time world rally winner added. “Apart from one mistake in Greece, I think I did everything I could.
“I know a full season would be good, but look at what Esapekka [Lappi] did a couple of years ago. Basically he won [WRC2] in Arctic Rally [Finland] and then in Portugal, where I couldn’t compete because of COVID. That was enough for him and that’s what I want to do. I have to show everybody that I am the fastest.”
Mikkelsen will drive a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, but the team has yet to be decided.
“The situation with Hyundai was very bad last year,” he said. “Basically, they stopped answering the phone and when they did answer, Toksport had made other plans and there was no space for me. Of course I want to drive for Toksport; let’s see what happens.
“I know I am still good enough to drive at the highest level and that’s the target for next year.”
Mikkelsen drives an SRT-run Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo at this week’s Qatar International Rally, which starts on Thursday evening.