Although the Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo star tops the standings before the championship’s ninth round, dropped scores are yet to be taken into account.
Drivers in WRC2 count their best six scores from seven starts. Mikkelsen already has two zeros to his name after engine failures in Portugal and Italy, which leaves him at a significant disadvantage.
The 33-year-old has won every event he’s finished this season and must continue that trend in Belgium as well as at his final scoring round in Greece to stand the best chance of holding onto the WRC2 crown.
“We had a good test last week and I feel like the Škoda is particularly strong on these kinds of roads,” Mikkelsen told WRC.com.
“For us to win the championship, I think we have to try and win in Ypres and in Greece - there’s no other choice. [Kajetan] Kajetanowicz is probably going to do Japan and New Zealand, so he could potentially have two easy wins there.
“Our retirements mean that, whatever happens, we will already have one zero score in our total tally. So my goal this week is very simple - we need to win,” he added.
Yohan Rossel took the WRC3 spoils in his Citroën C3 Rally2 on Belgium’s WRC debut last year and will be hoping to replicate that result in the same car this time around. The Frenchman has won two rallies from four starts - including the last asphalt fixture in Croatia.
M-Sport Ford young gun Jari Huttunen returns to a Fiesta Rally2 having driven a Rally1-specification Puma in Finland earlier in the month, while Tarmac titan Eric Camilli fields another Citroën on his first outing since Portugal.
Hyundai i20 N hotshot Grégoire Munster is lucky to even be starting the rally - as is Fabia man Marco Bulacia. Both drivers gave their mechanics a busy schedule after crashing out of last weekend’s Rally Van Staden.
Chris Ingram could overtake an absent Emil Lindholm to retake the lead of WRC2 Junior should he finish second overall or higher. Other drivers competing for bragging rights in the age 30 and under category include Bulacia and Munster plus Irish star Josh McErlean.
Local crews are also well-represented. They include Vincent Verschueren in a Volkswagen Polo as well as Davy Vanneste in a C3. Eleven-time Ypres winner Freddy Loix starts as the favourite for WRC2 Masters Cup honours in his Škoda.
• Full coverage from Ypres Rally Belgium will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.