Thursday | 17 Jul 2014

Half-term report: Andreas Mikkelsen

Our latest half-term driver report tracks the progress of Andreas Mikkelsen during the first seven rallies of the 2014 WRC season:

The Norwegian has settled in to his first full season of WRC competition without too many dramas and finds himself third in the drivers’ standings – only 29 points shy of more experienced team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

The opening trio of events conjured up a mixed bag of results for the VW Motorsport II driver. A stunning second-place finish in Sweden was sandwiched between a disappointing seventh place in Monte Carlo and two retirements at Rally Mexico.

But Mikkelsen bounced back on the next two events in Portugal and Argentina with a brace of fourth-place finishes and has made even bigger strides on the last two events in Italy and Poland.

The reason for his change in fortune? Much has to be credited to his decision to switch co-drivers just before Rally Italia Sardegna. Out went Mikko Markkula and in came Ola Floene – a man that guided Mikkelsen to back-to-back European Rally Championship titles in 2011 and 2012.

Mikkelsen's first retirement in Mexico came when he took a rear wheel off his Polo

The new-found level of confidence that Mikkelsen gained from the change was remarkable and he has suddenly become a driver capable of claiming top podium places. With Floene’s help, he finished fourth in Sardinia and then second in Poland – having led the rally on four different occasions.

Mikkelsen is riding high on the crest of a wave right now and he’ll be quietly thinking that he can overhaul Latvala for second place in the championship standings before the end of the season. He’s also shown himself to be capable of winning before the season reaches its conclusion in Wales. Don’t bet against that happening.

High point
Finishing second in Poland was a massive step forward for the Norwegian. He took the fight to Ogier from the start and led the event four times. But an untimely overshoot and a loss of the brakes on his Polo brought his challenge to an end. He was delighted with second place and was safe in the knowledge that his day will come.

Low point
Mexico was a rally to forget for the Norwegian. He kept his VW mechanics busy with two separate retirements. First, he took a rear wheel off his Polo on Friday, before rolling out of the rally on Saturday – an accident caused by a faulty pace note from the recce. It was his first trip to Mexico, but one that he’ll remember for all the wrong reasons.

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Andreas Mikkelsen gallery