Tuesday | 21 Sep 2021

Mikkelsen: ‘I can relax’

WRC2 championship leader Andreas Mikkelsen says he will relax and follow WRC2 rival Mads Østberg’s progress through next week’s Secto Automotive Rally Finland (1-3 October) before plotting his final assault on a maiden World Rally Championship crown.

Mikkelsen’s third maximum score of the season at EKO Acropolis Rally earlier this month helped him establish a 22-point lead over his Toksport Škoda Fabia team-mate Marco Bulacia and a 30-point advantage over Østberg.

In WRC2, drivers can enter a maximum of seven rallies and nominate their best six scores. Østberg still has two rounds remaining to contest, whilst Mikkelsen and Bulacia have one each. 

Bulacia can not finish the season higher than second with no chance of finishing on more than 122 points - four less than what Mikkelsen currently sits on. That leaves the title fight realistically down to Mikkelsen and his fellow countryman Østberg, who could end on 147 points if he scores maximum points in his two remaining rallies. Jari Huttunen and Teemu Suninen are also outside chances, should they score close to maximum points in the remaining rallies.

“It was a very good weekend,” said Mikkelsen reflecting on Greece. “After I saw Mads having trouble – I knew that our biggest opponent was gone. We tried to avoid as many stones as possible and I didn’t feel like we drove very fast, but we did the job we had to.

Addressing his championship hopes, the Norwegian admitted everything was looking good and added that missing Secto Automotive Rally Finland next month (1 - 3 October) will provide the chance to relax whilst keeping a keen eye on Østberg. 

“It’s a really great feeling, he smiled. I'm not doing Rally Finland, so I have one more rally to nominate. 

“I will sit back now and relax and look how my main competition are doing in Finland because they really need to deliver good results if they are still meant to be in contention for the championship. 

Mikkelsen picked up his third win of the season in Greece

“Then, when I come to the last round I will do, hopefully I will know what I need to do to be champion and I will drive accordingly. That's my plan.”

Mikkelsen backed up his fine EKO Acropolis Rally result with his first outright win of the European Rally Championship season when he won the Azores Rally at the weekend. The Norwegian star leads the ERC standings by 34 points.

Looking further ahead, Mikkelsen wouldn’t be drawn on his plans for 2022. He previously drove in the top-tier for Volkswagen and Hyundai but said nothing is clear yet.

All eyes will be on Mads Østberg in Finland

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