“Mikkelsen’s Rally Oz approach had a touch of genius”
Andreas Mikkelsen is a very handsome man indeed. Am I allowed to say that in this testosterone-fuelled publication? I don’t care, because it’s fact. But more than that, he’s ridiculously talented, clearly extremely bright, and just to rub in how unworthy the rest of us are, he’s an instantly likeable and thoroughly decent young man. If someone is lucky enough to be bestowed with the looks of Adonis, it’s just unpalatably unfair then to bless him further with brains, talent and personality.
But you have to admit, he wears all these burdensome attributes terribly well. OK, enough of my clearly envious man-love ramblings, let’s just concentrate on Andreas the rally driver.
For the first time in his career, he dominated a round of the WRC and fought off a final-day challenge from Ogier and Paddon to, quite rightly, take Volkswagen’s last WRC win here in Australia. Yes, it will be reordered as his third WRC win, but in reality, this is the first of real substance. When he claimed his first victory in Spain last year, he was battling for second place all weekend until Ogier made a catastrophic error on the final stage. Likewise, the win in Poland this year was a safe drive to second until the luckless Ott Tanak picked up a puncture just a few stages from home.
In Australia we witnessed a very different Mikkelsen. I’ll hold my hands up and admit I was the first to criticise The Handsome One’s very odd fixation with championship position this year. When he quite clearly couldn’t win the title, he fixed his sights firmly on second place. I didn’t get it. Surely no one is interested in being runner-up? We only remember winners right?
Well I still stand by that, but I now believe Mikkelsen’s approach had a touch of genius about it. One thing we have to realise is that the boy himself never doubted his ability to win rallies. Learning how to win a championship is, however, a very different thing.
Colin Mcrae won 25 times in the WRC but was champion only once. You could argue that Colin didn’t know how to win titles – only rallies. Richard Burns on the other hand won the championship in 2001 with only one event win along the way.
So maybe there’s a touch of the Burns about Mikkelsen’s approach. He wants to be champion and he knows that to achieve that he has to learn how to consistently accumulate points. Putting aside that overriding desire to win at all costs is very often the most difficult discipline for any young champion in waiting to master.
Mikkelsen has discipline this year that is astonishing. Considering the pace he showed in Oz you have to conclude that he quite possibly could have won more rallies this year. But then he would have binned it a few more times as well.
Great drivers and champions never have sublime speed in isolation, they combine speed with intelligence, patience and discipline. Mikkelsen has shown all these attributes in abundance.