Q&A with Andreas Mikkelsen
Mikkelsen claimed his second victory of the season in Romania
Winning the Sibiu Rally by more than five minutes suggests it was rather easy. But surely it wasn’t quite so straightforward was it?
“If you look at the gap it’s quite big but I tell you it hasn’t been as easy as it maybe looked. The roads were rough out there and it was basically a case for us of trying to get through safely without any problems. We managed to do that quite well and that’s also part of the reason why we have won this rally. Okay I didn’t have the dust which made it easier for me compared to the other guys but no problems and it’s a fantastic result for us.”
What was the key to your trouble-free run?
“We had a nice tactic before the rally after looking at the stages in the recce and it looked like it really paid off. The other guys were pushing at the start and getting problems but we were driving steadily. I also got help from the dust as well but anyway we have done a fantastic rally.”
There was one problem, a puncture on stage 10. What exactly happened?
“It was just on the long straight, I don’t know, I didn’t see anything then suddenly there was a big bang in the front-right tyre. I must have hit a rock or something. I’ve no clue because I was driving around every rock but when it’s flat in sixth gear it’s hard to see everything. Thankfully it was five kilometres from the finish and there was no problem.”
How hard is it driving to avoid problems?
“It’s very hard to be cautious when everyone is fighting but when I got my one- minute gap after the second stage I could drive safely without the feeling of having to push to be in the fight with somebody else. My job on this rally was quite easy.
You’ve been waiting since February for your second win in the IRC this season. How important was this victory for you?
“For me it was really important to get a win here. I have one victory earlier this season on gravel but the team has been working so hard. After that it’s been only second, second, second and it’s good to deliver the first place to the team. It’s also the 25th victory of ŠKODA so now we are the leading manufacturer of wins in the IRC so I am very happy for them. But overall it feels great to be back on top of the podium.”
How important was your team’s contribution in this success?
“This victory is a fantastic feeling for the whole ŠKODA UK Motorsport team, and if it wasn’t for their great work I wouldn’t be here on such a tough event. We’ve been so close in the last rounds with a lot of second places, so it’s great to be back on the top step of the podium.”
Your win gives you a 49-point lead in the standings with five rounds remaining. How confident are you of winning the IRC title for a second time?
“Looking at this IRC championship in the last couple of years everything has changed on the last couple of rounds so I don’t feel safe at all. Now we head to Barum with our shoulders a little bit down and we can maybe fight without thinking too much about the title – it would be really nice to attack more. I am really looking forward now to the last couple of rallies. We’ve got a good gap in the championship but we have to keep focused.