Monday | 26 Oct 2015

Mikkelsen's search for perfection ends in joy

With his mind focused on securing third place in the FIA World Rally Championship, Andreas Mikkelsen searched in vain for a perfect drive through 22 speed tests across four days at Rally RACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada in Spain.

When he finally found perfection on Sunday’s 23rd and last stage, it brought the Norwegian a remarkable maiden WRC victory in one of the most dramatic finales in the sport’s history.

Seconds after learning he had edged out team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala for second place at the end of the final Duesaigües Power Stage, Mikkelsen was told by TV reporter Julian Porter that leader Sébastien Ogier had crashed and he was actually the winner.

Mikkelsen sat inside his Volkswagen Polo R in stunned disbelief while co-driver Ola Floene burst into tears.

“Coming into the weekend I had one strategy and that was to secure third in the championship. I thought the last round in Wales could be the one to try to win if I had taken third and was free to go for it,” said Mikkelsen.

Winners - Andreas Mikkelsen (right) and Ola Floene

“We struggled on Friday but on Sunday I woke up on the right foot, although I was still thinking about Wales being the one to look for. I had a big spin, a big moment actually, in the first corner of the penultimate stage and it was really tight before the last stage,” added Mikkelsen, who started it just 1.4sec clear of Latvala.

“I knew I had to get that perfect stage. During the whole rally, I hadn’t had a perfect stage and I knew Jari-Matti loves this one. I finally got the perfect drive it and it was enough to take on Jari-Matti. When I then got the message Seb had gone off, I couldn't really believe it.”

Mikkelsen’s first win came on his 64th start, and 10 rallies after he crashed in the final test when fighting Ogier for victory in Sweden in February.

“It’s like a weight gone from my shoulders. Now I’ve done it, it should be easier to do it again. It has been a long ride and not good all the way, through many good and bad stories. We’ve been working hard for a long time so of course it’s emotional,” he added.

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