VW Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen is targeting a podium finish at the new-look Vodafone Rally de Portugal (21-24 May) because he knows he won’t be handicapped by a lack of previous experience.
The bulk of the route for this year’s rally will be new to the WRC crews as the event has moved to a new base at Matosinhos in the north of Portugal. It is the first time Rally Portugal has been held in the region since 2001.
Mikkelsen believes the gravel rally’s new route will equalise the field and that will allow him to present a stronger challenge at the head of the leaderboard.
“It’s going to be a whole new challenge,” the Norwegian told wrc.com. “Normally a new rally is very good for me. When we go to new rallies or we have new stages, we’re very much on the pace.
“When it comes to established stages and rallies where experience comes into play, we’re normally a bit behind. If you look back at previous Rally Portugals, I’ve never been really, really fast. So, coming to a new area is good news for me and a podium is my aim.”
The only section of next week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal that will be familiar to some crews is the ‘Fafe’ stage that has formed the short route for the ‘Fafe Rallysprint’ event that a number of crews – including Mikkelsen – have traditionally entered as a warm up to Rally Portugal in previous years.
Mikkelsen’s bid for a podium will also be helped by the fact he will be driving a 2015-spec Polo R WRC for the first time in Portugal and his co-driver, Ola Fløene, took part in the 2001 event with Henning Solberg.