Q&A with Andreas Mikkelsen before Rally Acores
"It’s one of my favourite rallies"
Andreas Mikkelsen ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion talks to ircseries.com on the eve of IRC season six getting underway on SATA Rallye Açores this week.
There might not have been a round of the IRC since Cyprus last November but you’ve been keeping busy lately. What have you been up to?
“I’ve done some testing for ŠKODA Motorsport and done some physical training like cross-country skiing in Norway to get my fitness up. I’ve also done some winter rallies.”
Winter rallies take place on snow, how relevant are they to the gravel stages you’ll encounter on SATA Rallye Açores?
“It’s a different surface but the driving style is more or less the same. The main thing is I got time in the car and it keeps me fit. When we start in the Azores we’ll be ready and fighting for the top.”
What would winning this rally mean to you?
“It’s one of my favourite rallies and I’m very motivated to win this special event after finishing second last year. It’s really challenging because it’s fast, narrow stages on gravel. There’s a great atmosphere and it’s my third time coming to this rally.”
As the defending champion, how much pressure are you feeling ahead of the new season?
“It’s just nice to start off with an event I really, really like. Hopefully it will be a big boost for the beginning of the season.”
Who do you expect to be your strongest rivals?
“There are always good drivers out there but obviously Juho Hänninen will be really strong for ŠKODA, particularly on the Azores where he is always fast.”