Tuesday | 17 Mar 2015

Upbeat Mikkelsen eyes Portugal

Andreas Mikkelsen believes his podium at Rally Guanajuato Mexico augurs well for the WRC’s return to northern Portugal in May.

Third on the season’s opening gravel round came after a cautious drive over roads on which he had little experience. He drove many for the first time after his Mexican debut in 2014 was disrupted by two crashes.

Vodafone Rally de Portugal (21 - 24 May) heads north for the first time since 2001 after a spell in the south coast Algarve region, and Mikkelsen reckons he can deliver a similar performance on stages that will be new to all frontrunners.

“I’ve always struggled a little bit in Portugal in previous years to be on the pace, but I believe what we did in Mexico gives me the confidence to go fast there,” said the 25-year-old Norwegian, who will drive the 2015-specification Volkswagen Polo R for the first time there.

Mikkelsen highlighted the benefits that knowledge of the roads made to his consistency and speed in Mexico.

“Second time through we were not really far behind on pace and still there is big room for improvement, but at this pace you really need to know the stages to go fast and safe at the same time.

“You can go fast, but then you probably do a mistake and you can retire. To be like Seb Ogier and the other guys who are really putting in good stage times and consistency, it has to do with experience.

“We tried to be consistent driving the stages first time through and the second time we tried to increase the pace,” he said.

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