Throughout December, we take a look at this year’s top five drivers, with a review of their performance, their season statistics and some thoughts from the men themselves. Up next: Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen.
2014 Vital Statistics - Andreas Mikkelsen
|Drivers’ Championship position:||3rd|
|Drivers' Championship points:||150|
|Stage wins (from a season total of 249):||19|
|Power Stage points:||6|
2014 in summary: Much was expected of Mikkelsen in 2014. And he delivered the promise that he had shown in previous years. But a radical change of approach was needed to get the Norwegian to where he wanted to be at the end of the season.
The opening chunk of the season yielded a mixed bag of results. An average seventh place in Monte Carlo was followed by a fantastic second place in Sweden. But the euphoria of Mikkelsen’s maiden podium was quickly overshadowed by a dismal showing in Mexico. Finishing 19th there highlighted that things weren’t all rosy in the Mikkelsen camp.
Three rallies later, Mikkelsen announced he was taking the unusual step of swapping co-drivers. Mikko Markkula was out and Ola Floene was in for Italy. The change had a monumental effect inside the cockpit of Mikkelsen’s Polo R WRC and, under Floene’s watchful eye, the Norwegian climbed onto the podium a further four times and notched a brace of fourth place finishes before the season reached its climax at Wales Rally GB.
Mikkelsen’s co-driver swap was a masterstroke. It had given him renewed confidence and that allowed him to let his driving do the talking.
To sum it up: Mikkelsen will look back at the 2014 season with great fondness. It was the year that the Norwegian scholar came of age in the WRC and showed his true speed and mettle. VW team-mates Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala will be well advised not to underestimate the threat that Mikkelsen will pose in 2015.
Q: Best moment of the season?
AM: “My first podium in Sweden.”
Q: You biggest near-disaster of the season?
AM: “I can’t really think of any near-misses. I didn’t have too many - except perhaps Mexico with two crashes in two days. The rest I got away with.”
Q: What are you most looking forward to next year?
AM: Coming back to Rally Sweden and to my home fans. After the podium there this year it would be really nice to fight for victory next time.”
Q: Your best party of 2014?
AM: “Rally Argentina maybe? [a long pause for thought]. Yes, definitely rally Argentina!”