Mikkelsen takes win on Fabia gravel debut

Mikkelsen takes win on Fabia gravel debutFrom Skoda Press [ 14/11/2010 ].
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On his first gravel rally in a Škoda Fabia S2000, Andreas Mikkelsen won the SWRC category on Wales Rally GB, the final round of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship, by over six minutes and finished 10th overall. Škoda UK Motorsport’s new signing, who’ll drive for the team in next year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), described the result as the best of his career.

Co-driven by Ola Fløene, the 21-year old Norwegian driver set 12 fastest stages times – including a sequence of six in a row (SS4-9 inc.) – on the 20 stage event, as he led the SWRC category from start to finish.

Andreas’ Škoda Rally Team Italia run Fabia S2000 ran faultlessly throughout the event.  The only minor problem came when the exhaust was damaged after a heavy landing on SS13 and Andreas had to drive through SS14 with the windows open as the fumes were making his eyes water. Despite this, he still set fastest S2000 time on both stages!

Andreas set the pace in a close battle with Jari Ketomaa (Ford Fiesta S2000) – who had to win the S2000 category in Wales to become SWRC Champion. When Ketomaa crashed out on the opening stage of Day 3 (SS17), Andreas was able to ease off and cruise to a massive 6 minute 02.7 second class victory and beat the newly crowned SWRC Champion Xevi Pons in the process.

Andreas: “The opening day of Wales Rally GB was really tricky because it was very wet and muddy, but we drove consistently and had a good run. The second day was the most difficult – the weather was nice but the conditions were changing all the time and you never quite knew what level of grip you’d have next.

“We had a great fight with Jari Ketomaa; it was really intense and there was only a couple of seconds between us all the time. I don’t think I have ever driven so flat out as I did on this event, and the battle with Jari was really good fun. It was bad luck for Jari. When he went off the pressure was away and we could ease off and drive for a comfortable victory. We didn’t want to relax too much because you can also lose concentration, so we focused on maintaining a good rhythm – which we managed to do.

“To rally a Fabia S2000 on gravel in Britain for the first time was great, because I have done so many rallies here that Britain feels like home.

“This result shows the potential we have. We are already a winning team, and I’m sure it will continue in the IRC next year.

“It’s my first win in the World Rally Championship and I think it’s the best result of my career. For me, this win is something really special.”

Wales Rally GB – SWRC positions (top 5)

1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (Škoda Fabia S2000)…3hrs 28mins 55.2secs

2. Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (Ford Fiesta S2000)…+6mins 02.7secs

3. Xevi Pons/Alex Haro (Ford Fiesta S2000)…+6mins 15.5secs

4. Patrik Sandell/Emil Axelsson (Škoda Fabia S2000)…+6mins 20.7secs

5. Michael Kosciuszko/Maciek Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia S2000)…+8mins 18.9secs