The Norwegian, who has three outright wins to his name in the WRC, admits his sealed surface confidence took a knock during his time at Hyundai Motorsport. Victory at Rally Hungary earlier this month helped put a smile back on his face.
During his time with the Korean team, Mikkelsen failed to make the same impact on asphalt as he did on gravel. He couldn’t find a set-up with the i20 WRC which made him comfortable enough to challenge on asphalt.
He was benched for last year’s Tour de Corse and – largely asphalt – Rally de España before leaving the team at the end of the season. His last WRC outing was in Britain more than a year ago.
He has fronted Pirelli’s tyre testing programme during 2020 in a Citroën C3 WRC in advance of the Italian firm’s full-time WRC return in 2021.
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“Winning [Rally Hungary] was like redemption for me,” he said. “If I went there and I wasn’t on the pace, I knew it would be really bad. It was tough to go down to ERC (European Rally Championship) and go to a rally I’d never done, but the others had.
“But people hadn’t seen me smiling in a rally car for two-and-a-half years. That had to change.”
Competing in Hungary in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo helped bring about that change and
Mikkelsen hopes that speed could be enough to land him a drive at the WRC’s season-closing fixture at Monza.
“For Monza, I am talking to some teams. Of course, I have good relations with Škoda, I did three rallies with the factory team in 2017 and it would be nice to work with them again.
“I know it’s hard to be in a World Rally Car for that rally but I am working on getting there to compete in WRC 2. That would be good. We have seen since Citroën hired Mads [Østberg] how it can help when you are winning to sell more cars to more customers.”