Friday, 1 February 2013

Ice-cool Mikkelsen thrills the crowds on an Arctic adventure

Milton Keynes, 29th January 2012 - Andreas Mikkelsen marked a brief return to ŠKODA with a crowd-pleasing second place finish on the Lapland Arctic Rally in Finland (25th-26th Jan).
Driving the same Fabia S2000 that took him to victory on the 2011 Cyprus Rally, Andreas entered the event as part of preparations for his 2013 WRC programme with Volkswagen Motorsport.
With the thermometer little more than -24c for most of the two-day Rovaniemi-based event, Andreas and co-driver Mikko Markkula faced a tough battle against a host of local drivers who started the winter classic with considerably more experience of the stages.
With the event regulations favouring Group N cars, many of which enjoyed a 100bhp advantage over Andreas’s PrintSport-run S2000-specification Fabia, the double-IRC champion had to drive at his very best to stay ahead of the pack.
Fastest times on four of the opening day’s five stages gave Andreas a slim lead at the end of the first leg. However, his advantage was short-lived when his Fabia S2000 picked up a puncture on the opening stage of the second leg. The loss of four minutes to change the tyre dropped Andreas and Mikko down to eighth.
With nothing to lose, Andreas threw everything into the four remaining stages, clawing back time and giving the crowds plenty to cheer. At final service, leader Juha Salo was forced to change a gearbox, picking up time penalties that set up a thrilling final two stages. Despite pushing to the maximum on the fast, snow-covered stages, it proved a challenge too far for the young Norwegian, who was unable to overturn the time deficit. After 10 action-packed stages, Salo took victory by just 1m 37s.
Despite missing out on top honours, Andreas thoroughly enjoyed being reunited with his Fabia S2000: “This has been a great rally and being back in the ┼áKODA feels like coming home. We had to fight hard the last two days – some of the stages are crazy fast – but we have had great fun.” Andreas continues his preparations for 2013 with another Fabia S2000 outing on the Finnskog Rally in Norway this weekend (2nd Feb).

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