Ranked as a future title winner, here are 10 steps the young Norwegian might be keen to take during his first year with the squad, as WRC.com explains.
Embrace the feel good factor
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Mikkelsen says of his chance with Volkswagen. “We’ve been doing a lot of events for the team [with the Skoda Fabia Super 2000] but it’s nice to be properly inside the team with the Polo project.”
With Mikkelsen’s first event not scheduled until Vodafone Rally de Portugal in April, a handful of practice events are being planned: “We will do the recce [for the first three rounds] and we will find some national events to get ready.”
“For sure it’s going to be very different to drive the Polo World Rally Car [compared to the Skoda Fabia Super 2000],” he concedes. “The top speed is bigger, the entrance speed to the corners is higher, there’s more downforce so for sure it won’t be easy. We will probably not be 100 per cent comfortable during the first few rallies but we can improve during the season and develop our speed.”
With Mikkelsen’s new co-driver Mikko Markkula a Finn, the old mix of Norwegian and English pace notes is out in favour of English-only instructions. “The system stays the same but we replace the Norwegian numbers with English ones. The new cooperation doesn’t worry me at all,” says Mikkelsen.
Being part of a factory line-up isn’t new for Mikkelsen with the Norwegian just about to complete a two-year stint with Skoda UK Motorsport. “When I was private if I wrecked a car it didn’t matter more or less. With a manufacturer, people are relying on you and you can’t think about yourself all of the time.”
“There are many rallies I am looking forward to,” says Mikkelsen. “For sure I have some favourite ones. Finland I have done some times now and Spain can be a good event for us. And I was very fast in Argentina last year even though it was our first time there.”
Time is on your side
The 23-year-old is on a long-term contract with Volkswagen, a fact he’s quick to recognise. “Being in a third car means we are not under the limelight and that takes the pressure a little bit away. We can try to develop in very calm conditions, that’s the correct way.”
Respect your elders
Mikkelsen is the youngest member of the three-strong Volkswagen line-up. He plans to play a supporting role to Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier: “I really want to help those guys next year. It’s a learning year for me and this is normal. But for sure as the years progress I want to deliver proper results and show my speed.”
Do your country proud
With Petter Solberg sitting out the 2013 season, it’s down to Mikkelsen and fellow countryman Mads Ostberg to uphold Norwegian honour in the WRC next year. “It’s really sad about Petter but Mads has had a fantastic year and for sure he will lead the Ford drivers next year and do a fantastic job. We will take our time but hopefully we will deliver strong results.”
Don’t get complacent
Mikkelsen is part of the EVEN Rally management company, which also has rising star Esapekka Lappi on its books. “He has the same opportunities I had, he’s a fantastic driver and his potential is very big,” says Mikkelsen.