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Tue 04 Jan 2022

Eriksen partners Mikkelsen after Østberg split

Double WRC2 co-driving champion Torstein Eriksen will join fellow Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen for the new FIA World Rally Championship season.

Eriksen (pictured right with Mikkelsen) read the notes for Mads Østberg since midway through 2017 and they won the championship’s premier support category in 2020.

Mikkelsen claimed the WRC2 title last year but used three different co-drivers across the seven rounds. That allowed Eriksen to claim a second crown alongside drivers’ runner-up Østberg.

Mikkelsen will defend his title in Toksport’s Skoda Fabia Rally2 and the partnership will begin at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (20 - 23 January).

The switch was confirmed on Tuesday on Mikkelsen’s social media channels. He is currently competing in the Dakar Rally with the Red Bull Off-Road Junior team after a late call-up.

Østberg confirmed shortly before the new year that his partnership with Eriksen was over. Eriksen worked in Østberg’s safety note crew from 2012 before replacing Ola Fløene on the notes from 2017’s Rally Finland onwards. He will be replaced by Swede Patrik Barth.

“We have many good results together, with several podium places in WRC, and two gold and one silver for Torstein in the co-driver WRC2 championship,” Østberg said in a statement.

“I can surely say that our co-operation has been good from the first to the last rally, good work, good relation and good friendship. It was a surprise, I must admit, but fortunately I have a perfect replacement in Partrik Barth, with whom I have worked since 2017.”

Barth was beaten to the 2020 WRC2 title by Østberg and Eriksen when he co-drove Pontus Tidemand. He was a key part of Østberg’s safety note team in other seasons.

“I’m really looking forward to taking the step from gravel crew to Mads' right seat,” Barth said. “Our collaboration has been good since 2017, and I look forward to the start up in 2022.”

Østberg’s programme has yet to be finalised. He has driven a Citroën C3 in either World Rally Car or Rally2 specification since 2018 and is expected to return to WRC2. Rally Sweden or Vodafone Rally de Portugal have been tipped as potential start points for his campaign.

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