MIKKELSEN OPTS FOR SKODA TO START 2017
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