Sun 27 Feb 2022

Mikkelsen bolsters title defence with Sweden win

Andreas Mikkelsen emerged as WRC2 winner after a three-day tussle with fellow Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby at Rally Sweden.

It was a scintillating battle between two good friends as they traded times from start to finish. 

Veiby set the initial pace and built a small lead through Friday, but surrendered the position to Mikkelsen after dropping around 20sec with a stall at SS7.

Škoda Fabia Rally2 star Mikkelsen edged out a small buffer on Saturday afternoon and carried a 10.9sec lead into the final day, but Veiby more than halved that deficit on Sunday’s opening pair of stages.

Just as the scrap hit fever pitch, Veiby’s comeback fell to pieces when he spun his Volkswagen Polo GTI at Vindeln 2.

The mishap cost 17.3sec, enabling Mikkelsen to cruise through the Wolf Power Stage and clinch his second consecutive win after Rally Monte-Carlo as well as seventh overall. The difference at the finish was 23.2sec.

"It's been one of the best fights of my career,” beamed Mikkelsen. “Ole Christian has been doing a great rally. I know he has worked super hard over the last 12 months, so I am really happy for him to come here and deliver such a good result."

Veiby also paid tribute to the friendly rivalry, adding: “The fight with Andreas has been the coolest ever and remembering that he has been essentially my mentor in rallying during all the years, I am where I am today thanks to him.”

M-Sport Ford man Jari Huttunen moved onto the final step of the podium when Nikolay Gryazin crashed his Fabia on SS18. The Finn ended 1min 03.1sec adrift of Veiby with Egon Kaur 10.6sec behind in another Polo.  

Estonian youngster Georg Linnamäe dropped around 30sec with a spin on Sunday morning but recovered to round off the top five. The 23-year-old claimed WRC2 Junior honours and trailed Kaur’s similar car by just 11.2sec, whilst Eerik Pietarinen completed the top six 1min 42.7sec down on the leaders. 

Per Gunnar Andersson retired his Fiesta after going off the road on Saturday morning, with Mattias Adielsson’s similar car also grinding to a halt on Sunday. Other retirements included Saudi Arabian driver Rakan Al Rashed who rolled out and Frédéric Rosati.

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