Pirelli has announced Andreas Mikkelsen as the test driver for its World Rally Championship return, as predicted by DirtFish, and revealed the livery its Citroën C3 WRC will run.
It also confirmed initial details of its restarted test program, which will begin in Sardinia in mid-July and use both gravel and asphalt stages.
A Pirelli statement emphasized that there would be a focus on “development of hard compound tires, given the high temperatures and abrasive surfaces that are typical of the stages in Sardinia”.
Pirelli returns as the WRC’s control tire supplier from the start of the 2021 season, but its test program has been paused lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mikkelsen – who will work with regular co-driver Andreas Jaeger – has been selected for the test role as he has ample WRC experience but is not currently associated with a team, having split with Hyundai at the end of last year.
He recently told DirtFish that he had budget available to invest in getting back into the WRC field.
The Citroën C3 also fits the bill for Pirelli’s needs as it was used in the WRC up to the end of 2019, when the company dramatically quit the series following lead driver Sébastien Ogier’s exit for Toyota.
Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli’s rally activity manager, said work had continued behind the scenes while on-stage running wasn’t possible and his firm was now eager to see what Mikkelsen made of its products.
“To see how far we’ve come with our development, which has continued unabated with laboratory testing throughout the lockdown period, we’ve selected the best combination of car and driver,” he said.
“The C3 WRC, which isn’t currently used on the world championship, is extremely representative in terms of performance and allows us to develop the 2021 tires in a way that is fair to everyone. This is a priority for any sole tire supplier.
“Andreas is an experienced driver who is well-known for his professionalism and feeling with tires.
“These have to demonstrate both performance and reliability in one complete package, which is always the biggest challenge in rallying.”