MIKKELSEN OPTS FOR SKODA TO START 2017

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com

An­dreas Mikkelsen has been forced to step back to a Skoda Fabia R5 in an ef­fort to keep his World Rally Cham­pi­onship ca­reer alive.

The Nor­we­gian will contest the Monte Carlo Rally in one of the Czech-built ma­chines, with the di­rec­tion of the rest of his 2017 season still un­de­cided.

Mikkelsen, like his Volk­swa­gen team-mates Se­bastien Ogier and Jari-matti Latvala, had been ex­pected to jump aboard a Polo R WRC 18 months in the mak­ing and just carry on win­ning. VW’S de­ci­sion to quit the world cham­pi­onship in Novem­ber ended all such plans.

Mikkelsen and his Nor­we­gian coun­try­man Mads Ost­berg were both un­der­stood to have had am­bi­tions to piece to­gether deals to run the 2017 Po­los pri­vately. At the time of go­ing to print, those plans re­main un­clear mov­ing for­ward.

Ost­berg is not ex­pected to make the start of round one in the French Alps – his pro­gramme will be­come clearer from Fe­bru­ary’s Rally Swe­den.

Once the Toyota seat had gone, Mikkelsen’s only re­main­ing hope had been to join the DMACK World Rally Team to drive a 2017 Ford Fi­esta WRC. DMACK toyed with the idea of run­ning the Nor­we­gian, but ul­ti­mately de­cided to stick with Welsh­man El­fyn Evans, who will contest all 13 rounds with the Cum­brian squad this season.

Mikkelsen ad­mit­ted his fo­cus had shifted from 2017 to 2018, say­ing: “The con­se­quence of VW with­draw­ing is that all the WRC seats were al­ready taken. There­fore, my 2017 season will be all about keep­ing my rally warm and find­ing a seat in the right team to be able to fight for the world cham­pi­onship in 2018.

“We don’t know what the season will bring yet. But I hope to get to drive as much as pos­si­ble and we are work­ing on a plan to do se­lected ral­lies.”

Mikkelsen is well ac­quainted with Skoda rally cars, hav­ing driven Skoda UK Motorsport’s Fabia S2000 to back-to-back IRC ti­tles in 2011 and 2012.

Mikkle­sen (inset) will han­dle an R5

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