Rally Australia: Aussie ups and downs for Mikkelsen

Volkswagen junior driver Andreas Mikkelsen has expressed his satisfaction after finishing sixth on Rally Australia and has given stand-in co-driver, Paul Nagle top marks following their first event together.

Mikkelsen led initially in Oz following Thursday night's short super specials, and while he dropped back on the Friday and had two scares on both runs through Newry, he remained in the top-seven throughout.

The Norwegian may have taken fifth too, had he not been instructed to take it easy on the final day and not get involved in a scrap with Mads Ostberg, who was 2.6secs adrift at the end of Saturday's tests.

“Rally Australia had its ups and downs for me,” Mikkelsen said after round ten in the 2013 World Rally Championship.

“On Thursday, I had a chance to savour the feeling of leading in a World Championship rally for the first time. Friday got off to a great start, but little mistakes cost us a lot of time.

“I had to pay for them again on Saturday as one of the first World Rally Cars on the track. And Sunday? I did all I could to get the car over the line and help the team in the Manufacturer's Championship. That meant going into 'cruise mode' and not going on the attack. I'm sure it would have been more fun if we'd done things differently.”

“All in all, we're really pleased with sixth place though,” added the two-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion.

“It was a good debut at the Rally Australia for us, and it was great working with my co-driver Paul Nagle, who stepped in for my usual partner Mikko Markkula at short notice. Paul and I had a good weekend. [Overall] it's been a fantastic and a big learning curve.”

Source: Crash. net
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After SS2: Mikkelsen leads after Thursday’s stages

Stage description:
This new stage is based in the heart of Coffs Harbour, across the road from the service park. It features two cars at a time, with a simultaneous start on opposite sides of a former velodrome oval before breaking out on to surrounding streets, and the finish back in the oval. The surface is a combination of asphalt and gravel.

How the action unfolded: 
Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen holds a slender overnight lead of Rally Australia after the opening two stages on Thursday evening. 

The Norwegian was fastest on the first pass of the Super Special in downtown Coffs Harbour - run as SS1 - and second on the second (SS2) to hold a 0.9sec advantage over Citroen DS3 driver Kris Meeke. Mikkelsen’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is third, 0.5sec behind Meeke. 

It is the first time that Mikkelsen has led a WRC rally, but it was a close call after he clipped a barrier with the left-hand front corner of his Polo R on the second loop. 

“The stage was okay but I think the organisers sprayed water on the road after the first pass and suddenly it was super slippery,” he explained. “I think we’re okay, no damage.”

The water, sprayed on the dry earth sections to keep the dust clouds down, made conditions unexpectedly slippery for many of the WRC crews. “Some corners are like ice,” reported Meeke. “We put on a good show but took absolutely no risks.” 

Cheered on by grandstands full of spectators, crews tackled the tight and twisty mixed surface test in pairs with headlights blazing. Drivers’ championship leader Sebastien Ogier ended the day fourth, and looking forward to Friday, when the action switches to the twisty gravel roads south of Coffs Harbour. 

“I just tried to keep out of trouble here, but it was tricky because we decided to start with the hard [compound] tyres. Not the best in the slippery stuff - we didn’t expect more water on the stage. Tomorrow is the real start of the rally,” he said. 

Mikko Hirvonen is fifth, with Thierry Neuville sixth and Mads Ostberg - who complained of bad understeer – seventh. 

Coffs Harbour resident Nathan Quinn ended the day 10th on his debut in a Mini JCW World Rally Car, and managed to beat Khalid Al Qassimi on his second pass through the stage. “I’m learning a lot pretty quickly, now I can’t wait to get out on the wide roads tomorrow,” he said. 

WRC 2 
Ford Fiesta R5 driver Yuriy Protasov heads the WRC 2 standings, 0.5sec ahead of Yazeed Al Rajhi in a Fiesta RRC. Hayden Paddon is third but left for the overnight parc ferme concerned at the low battery voltage of his Skoda Fabia S2000.  

Ford Fiesta R5 driver Subhan Aksa started the stage six minutes late after emergency work to cure an engine problem overran. The Indonesian lost power on the first pass through Thursday’s shakedown and M-Sport technicians stripped and rebuilt the engine this afternoon after it was found to be leaking oil and water. 

Rally Australia resumes on Friday morning, with the first of eight stages, the 8.44km Tuckers Nob, getting underway at 1003hrs local time.

Source: WRC
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Paul Nagle to co-drive for Mikkelsen in Australia

Volkswagen has revealed that Ireland's Paul Nagle will co-drive for works team driver Andreas Mikkelsen at Rally Australia. 

Nagle will stand in for Mikkelsen’s usual co-driver, Mikko Markkula, who is recuperating after injuring two vertebrae at Rally Finland. 

Mikkelsen had to withdraw from last week’s Rally Germany at the last minute, as Markkula’s injury was too severe to allow him to start. 

Nagle and Mikkelsen have known each other since they went head to head at the Rally Ireland in 2007. Back then, Nagle was co-driver to Britain’s Kris Meeke. 

“We are pleased to have found such a competent replacement so soon after Mikko’s withdrawal,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. 

“Paul has a wealth of rallying experience and, with his professional approach, will definitely meet our expectations. We wish Mikko a speedy recovery. He can now take his time and concentrate fully on ensuring he gets back to full fitness. As soon as he has recovered from his injury, he will take his place next to Andreas again.” 

“It is obviously a great shame that Mikko will also be missing for the Rally Australia. However, the good news is that we have found a good replacement,” added Mikkelsen. 

“For me, it was important to find a co-driver, with whom I can communicate in English in the cockpit. Mikko and I changed the style of our pace notes ahead of this season, and both switched from our native language to English. It is an advantage for me not to have to change language again.” 

Coates Hire Rally Australia is the tenth round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship and starts from Coffs Harbour on 12 September. 

Source: WRC .com
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Andreas Mikkelsen pulls out of Germany

Andreas Mikkelsen has withdrawn from ADAC Rallye Deutschland due to an injury to co-driver Mikko Markkula. 

Markkula (pictured left) has fractured his seventh vertebrae and partially fractured his eighth vertebrae. The injuries happened during Rally Finland earlier this month and Volkswagen Motorsport made the decision to withdraw the duo this morning. 

Markkula complained of back problems in Finland, but the pain eased following the event. However, the pain returned during Monday’s opening day of recce and the Finn underwent an MRI scan which revealed the extent of the injuries. 

“I suffered severe back pains on the Sunday of Rally Finland,” explained Markkula. “We assumed it was muscular tension. The pain eased off after the rally, just as the doctors had said it would. 

“However, it has returned over the past few days and on Tuesday evening I went for a more accurate MRI scan and it was then that we determined I had fractured the two vertebrae. 

“Nobody had considered that possibility, and it was obviously a shock because it meant we would have to withdraw from the rally at the last minute. We are really disappointed. I also feel sorry for the team, for whom we wanted to get a good result at our home rally,” he added. 

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito said it was too near the start to consider a replacement co-driver for Mikkelsen. 

“It would have been too risky to send Andreas out with a co-driver, alongside whom he has not driven a single metre prior to the rally and who did not take part in the recce. Andreas has changed his style of pace notes this season, and Mikko is the only co-driver familiar with them,” he explained. 

“Safety comes first, particularly when it comes to Mikko’s health. The fractured vertebrae were not easy to diagnose, which is why we took our time to ensure that we made the right decision,” added Capito.

Source: WRC .com
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Rallye Deutschland: Germany the most challenging asphalt rally - Mikkelsen

Norwegian rally star Andreas Mikkelsen reckons Rallye Deutschland is 'the most challenging asphalt rally' there is.

The Volkswagen Motorsport junior driver fought his way back to claim the final point in Finland last time out, his fifth points finish with the Polo R WRC from just six starts.

Germany, however, will be a very different test this coming week, and while this will be the 24-year-old's fourth run on the Trier-based event – having contested it in 2007, 2008 and 2012, finishing seventh there twelve months ago - he is by no means complacent about the challenge ahead.

“For me, Rallye Deutschland is the most challenging asphalt rally,” he confirmed. “It is the first real asphalt rally of the year, and consists of many different types of asphalt.”

“There are three different kinds of special stage. On the one hand you have the military special stages, with quite aggressive concrete. Then there are the vineyards with their narrow, gravelly roads. And then you also have the roads with perfectly flat asphalt,” he explained.

“Prior to the rally, though, we had a test on asphalt, at which our car was excellent. I am now really looking forward to the event,” he continued.

Mikkelsen knows the team will be under added pressure however, given it is the squad's first run at home.

“It is particularly important for Volkswagen to achieve a good result at its home rally. Everyone involved will be especially focussed.

“It will be a very special event, for both the team and the drivers,” he concluded.

Source: Crash. Net
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Rally-fit with Andreas Mikkelsen

Sports-wise, there appears to be little that Polo-R-WRC driver Andreas Mikkelsen hasn't tried. Except for synchronized swimming or dressage. Although come to think of it, we're not 100 per cent certain that he hasn’t tried those either.

"Mountain biking, bike racing, cross-country skiing, slope skiing, swimming, weight training, football, boxing," responded Mikkelsen when we asked him what sports he likes playing. Sorry, we almost forgot the marathon he just ran. Mikkelsen also loves motocross and has ridden since he was twelve years old. But he had to give up riding on two wheels for his rally career as the risk of injury is just too high.

It's already well known that motorsport racers have to be extremely fit athletes. Andreas Mikkelsen is no different: he loves speed, working out is very much a part of his life and - how practical - his personal coach is one of his best friends. Mikkelsen plays sport every day, often up to three times a day.

And what about nutrition? Burgers, pizzas, Black Forest cake? Of course! But only after the rally. Before the rally, the motto is: tasty AND healthy. To spare Andreas the onerous task of calorie counting, Volkswagen's motorsport team works closely with doctors and nutrition experts. The drivers and co-drivers are even given muesli individually tailored to their needs.

"I'm probably the fittest driver in the WRC," says Mikkelsen proudly. We don’t doubt it - and the photos prove it. The Rally-the-World team had something of a bad conscience after talking to the impressively athletic Mikkelsen and immediately headed off for a work out.

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WRC Portugal 2013: Mikkelsen ready to 'step up'

Andreas Mikkelsen believes he is ready for the WRC ahead of his debut with the Volkswagen Motorsport II team on this weekend's Rally of Portugal.

Despite it being his first rally with the Polo R WRC, the young Norwegian feels he is ready to 'step up' to the challenges of the WRC after having spent two years in the International Rally Championship with a Skoda Fabia

“After two successful years in the IRC, I feel ready to take the step up into the World Rally Championship,” he said.

“It will be my first rally with the Polo R WRC, although I did have a number of outings with Volkswagen last year [in an S2000 Skoda] and have already been completely integrated in the team.

“As such, the only thing that is really new to me is the element of competing in a current World Rally Car.”

Despite having assimilated himself well with VW last year, the Norwegian conceded that the Portuguese stages will not give him the easiest debut and is just seeking a mistake free event despite having driven the recce last year and having competed back in 2007.

“In my opinion, the Rally Portugal is one of the most difficult on the race calendar [as] there are a lot of 'blind' passages and relatively little grip,” he said.

“The last time I drove there was back in 2007, so it will practically be a new event for me. I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the Recce last year. As such, I have some idea of what to expect.

"Despite this, it will certainly be one of the most difficult rallies of the year for me. It will be important not to make any mistakes and to avoid any incidents.”

The Volkswagen Motorsport II team was created following Mikkelsen's success in the IRC and will see him and co-driver Mikko Markkula contest the ten remaining rounds on the WRC calendar.

By George East - Crash .net
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A new addition to the Volkswagen team: from the Rally Portugal onward, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula will take part in the World Rally Championship in a third Polo R WRC. After two years in a Skoda Fabia in the Super 2000 category, where the cars have 30 hp less, the youngest driver ever to win world championship points (at the Rally Sweden in 2008) will now make his big debut. So how do you feel, Andreas? "Fantastic. I think any driver would be happy to drive for Volkswagen in the 2013 rally season"

The past few months have required the high-speed personality Andreas Mikkelsen to be rather patient: the 23-year-old has had to follow the action as a spectator, including the impressive first place achieved by the Polo R WRC in its first special stage at the Rally Monte Carlo in January and Sébastien Ogier's victories in Sweden in February and in Mexico at the start of March. But he was behind the wheel in spirit: "I'm an adrenaline junkie and love everything to do with high speeds", explained the Norwegian in the Rally The World interview. "When I tested the Polo R for the first time, my only thought was: Wooooow is that fast! When can I start?

However, he does have one regret: he would have loved to have shown off his skills at the Rally Sweden. "I grew up in the snow and was a skier in the national youth team. I learnt to drive on frozen lakes in Norway when I was 16 – and in a proper World Rally Car. I then had to learn how to use a normal stick shift when I had proper driving lessons because I was so used to flappy paddles."

It's clear Andreas will now give it his all and try to get to the top spot. To guarantee the WRC returnee enough test days and space in the service park, a new team was set up: Volkswagen Motorsport II. "Working with Volkswagen is really exciting," says Mikkelsen, "after all, this is where rally legends such as Carlos Sainz or the Golf GTI 16V meet today's heroes: the Polo R WRC and world-class drivers such as Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila." Why he forgot to include himself in that list is something he's sure to rectify after the Rally Portugal has taken place (11-14 April).

Source: Rally The World
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