Wed 07 Sep 2022

Mikkelsen: Only a win will do

Andreas Mikkelsen tops a star-studded 34-car WRC2 entry for this week’s EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (8 - 11 September) and knows he must win in order to defend his crown.

The Lamia-based fixture marks the Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo driver’s seventh and final outing of the year. Although he’s led the standings for all but three rounds of the season, he knows the direction of the silverware won’t be known until November’s Rally Japan.

A brace of event-ending engine issues in Portugal and Sardinia have hit Mikkelsen’s title tilt this year. With WRC2 drivers able to count their best six results from seven starts, the Norwegian will be forced to count at least one non-score. 

“That’s all I can do,” insisted Mikkelsen, who finished runner-up to Stéphane Lefebvre last time out in Belgium. “I just need to go to Greece and try to push for maximum points. 

“After that, it depends on what everybody else does. It would have been nice to have won in Belgium, but I was not willing to risk the second place we were looking good for. If we didn’t bring the car to the finish in Ypres, then our championship was over.

“In the end, we took second and the maximum Wolf Power Stage points. Now we look to Greece and it’s very important to take the win,” he added. 

Arguably, Kajetan Kajetanowicz is Mikkelsen’s biggest rival for the title. He sits third in the standings but won’t be in Greece this week - the Pole instead preferring to build his programme towards the end of the season with a confirmed outing at Repco Rally New Zealand.

Yohan Rossel won the WRC3 category here last year but was later disqualified for a technical infringement. He fields a Citroën C3 Rally2, with Hyundai i20 N Rally2 driver Teemu Suninen also among the long list of names to watch out for. 

Joining Mikkelsen in the Toksport Škoda camp is Eyvind Brynildsen, who fills in for Marco Bulacia after the Bolivian withdrew due to an injury. Nikolay Gryazin and Emil Lindholm line up in Toksport’s second team. 

Chris Ingram - also driving a Fabia - will be looking to extend his lead in the WRC2 Junior series having taken the spoils at the previous round in Belgium. Other drivers registered for the junior category include Georg Linnamäe in a Volkswagen Polo as well as Fabrizio Zaldivar in a Hyundai. 

An impressive nine Greek drivers feature on the entry. Former Acropolis Rally winner Lambros Athanassoulas is likely to be leading the charge for home-grown glory aboard his i20.

  • Full coverage from EKO Acropolis Rally Greece will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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