Wednesday | 05 Aug 2020

Pirelli asphalt work boosts Mikkelsen’s belief

Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen says his time testing Pirelli’s 2021 FIA World Rally Championship tyres has already given him back the confidence he was missing after last year’s WRC exit.

While Mikkelsen challenged at the front of the field on the loose, he couldn’t find comfort aboard an asphalt-specification Hyundai i20. Driving Pirelli’s Citroën C3 WRC in Sardinia last month demonstrated he’s lost none of his Tarmac touch.

Mikkelsen is the Italian firm’s test driver as it gears up for its full-time WRC return in January.

“[For] the last couple of years I’ve been struggling on Tarmac with the Hyundai and getting to grips with that car on Tarmac,” he said.

“Now in the Citroën where I performed really well in Germany in 2017, I managed to get that same feeling back which I’ve been missing for many, many years so that felt really, really good.

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“I think it’s pretty clear that in 2017, I was leading Rally Germany, we finished second in the Citroën and three or four months later I was doing Tarmac again in Spain and I was dead last.

“That proved very much that maybe the Hyundai is not made for me and my driving style, it just didn’t work out.”

Mikkelsen struggled to find a balance with the i20 on asphalt, always feeling there was too much understeer in the car for him.

Video: Pirelli tyre test

After working with team engineers, the three-time world rally winner tied to adapt his driving style to the car, but it wasn’t enough to avoid being dropped from the Korean manufacturer’s line-up at the end of 2019.

Mikkelsen remains committed to coming back to the WRC full-time. He added: “This is not something I am going to give up on. I think team bosses, they know what I’m good for when I come in a car and I feel comfortable. I’ve proven many times.”