13 Feb 08
While Jari-Matti Latvala’s record-breaking achievement on the Swedish Rally was understandably the biggest story of the event, a little way down the order another driver had written himself into the history books.
Finishing fifth overall, Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen achieved not only his best ever WRC result (eclipsing the ninth he scored on Rally Ireland in 2007) but at the age of 18 he also became the youngest driver to score points in a world championship rally; beating Matthew Wilson’s eighth place on Rally Argentina 2006 when he was nineteen.
This was Mikkelsen’s first attempt at the Swedish Rally, although it wasn’t his first snowy outing in the WRC: “Last year I wasn’t old enough to enter the Swedish Rally as I was just 17,” said Mikkelsen. “I got special dispensation from the Norwegian automobile sport federation to enter rally Norway, but trying for the same thing in Sweden would have been pushing my luck.”
Mikkelsen’s Swedish debut didn’t go without a hitch, however, and despite some coaching from his friend and mentor Marcus Gronholm, mechanical problems meant he had a slow start to the event. “On the way to the start of the first stage on Friday morning there was something wrong with a turbo valve and we were more or less without turbo all of Leg 1,” said Mikkelsen. “On Saturday the car was working 100% and I also drove well so everything worked. We set some really good stage times and made up for some of the time lost on Friday, climbing a few places.
“On Sunday I had a great fight with Matthew and it was too bad he went off because it was a good battle and as well as being sad for him, I would have preferred to have fought to the end! When we saw he had retired we just turned down our pace and concentrated on improving our pace notes for returning here in 2010,” he added.