Fri 21 Jul 2023

Solberg mishap puts Mikkelsen on pole in WRC2

Andreas Mikkelsen ended Friday’s opening leg at Rally Estonia with a solid advantage in the WRC2 category after early leader Oliver Solberg retired with car damage.

Mikkelsen was no match for Swede Solberg over the first three stages and languished 13.5sec adrift of the youngster at the mid-leg service in Tartu.

But the tables were turned early in the repeated afternoon loop when Solberg, driving a Škoda Fabia RS similar to that of Mikkelsen’s, pulled over with broken suspension after clipping something on the side of the road in Peipsiääre 2.

That promoted Mikkelsen to the first, a position he held despite an overshoot in SS8 to reach the overnight halt 17.6sec clear of second-placed Fabia man and WRC2 Challenger leader Sami Pajari. Hyundai i20 N debutant Emil Lindholm completed the podium a hefty 41.8sec in arrears after nursing an intermittent power steering issue.  

“In the junction, I messed up the pedals or something and we were a bit too late but I saved the situation,” Mikkelsen said of his final stage error. “It's not a big lead - but at least it's a lead!”

Friday saw arguably one of the Georg Linnamäe's standout performance, the 25-year-old piloting a Hyundai i20 N on home soil. He trailed Lindholm by just 10.2sec in fourth in the category and even claimed his maiden WRC2 stage win on the first pass of Raanitsa.

Behind him was fellow countryman Robert Virves, who proved the pace of M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Rally2 with a string of top-five stage times. Marco Bulacia, recovering from an unnerving roll in Thursday’s shakedown, rounded out the top six while Egon Kaur plummeted from second to seventh when his car’s windscreen misted up during a heavy rain shower in SS7.

Mauro Miele headed Alexander Villanueva in the battle for WRC Masters Cup honours. Early favourite Armin Kremer, meanwhile, was put out of contention on Thursday evening when he retired his Škoda with suspension damage in the opening stage.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM