Q&A: with Andreas Mikkelsen - The IRC Champion!


Andreas Mikkelsen became the youngest Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion following a thrilling five-way fight for the title on the Cyprus Rally, which finished in Pafos on Saturday evening. This is what he had to say…

Andreas, the 2011 IRC champion and the youngest ever driver to take the IRC title, how does it feel?

“It’s hard to describe with words. It’s been a long weekend. After Juho went off everything was possible. We had a fight with Thierry but when he had his problems things were a little bit easier for us. Then it was Nasser and Jan. In one way we got it go a little bit easy when the others had their problems, but especially on the last three stages I must say when we got the puncture I must say for sure Jan is going to take the title but then he also had a puncture.”

What was it like crossing the finishing line of the final stage realising you were champion?

“The last two stages I heard so much noise, which I’d never heard before in the car. I was thinking of all the problems that we can have. It was two long stages and crossing that finish line on the last two stages was something special. I was crying like a baby but when you have worked so hard for something for five years now after I quit my alpine skiing to try and be really good in rallying and to be on top here in the IRC. It was a very special moment for the whole team. We’ve been working really hard this year so I’m very happy it happened here.”

How much confidence did it give you when Juho, Thierry and Nasser retired?

“When we had a little gap it’s always hard to keep the concentration level at 100 per cent. But we managed to do that in a good way. As I said crossing the finish line it was after three of the longest stages of my life. It was special.”

You mentioned thinking Jan might beat you to the title when you had your puncture but after your crash on Rallye Monte-Carlo did you ever doubt you could hit back?

“To become IRC champion is such a fantastic feeling, the likes of which I have never felt before. It’s been a tough season, which didn’t start so well in Monte Carlo but which has just kept getting better and better. We’ve had a fantastic second half of the year and wow, to finish with a win in Cyprus and the IRC drivers’ title, I can hardly believe it has happened. It’s like a dream.”

You effectively dominated this event from the start. What would you say is the key to success in Cyprus?

“Well it’s definitely possible to go faster than we have done but at the risk of breaking the car. We found a good balance between going fast and saving the car at the same time. That is the key to success here in Cyprus.”

How did the mixed surface nature of the event affect your drive?

“It was actually very, very fun. I really enjoyed it. To have Tarmac and gravel on the same stage and doing Tarmac on gravel tyres was fun. You can slide a little bit so I really enjoyed it.”

What’s next for you and your career?

“I don’t know, apart from a big dinner. Of course there will be some more IRC events next year but I don’t really know more than that.”

Now you’ve had a lot of support this season and during your career. Do you have a message for those people who have helped you?

“I’d really like to thank everyone at ŠKODA UK Motorsport and ŠKODA Motorsport for and giving me this opportunity this year. It’s a special moment for everyone. So much effort has been put in over the last five years of my rallying career, not just by me, but the people around me. To give this title back to everyone who has been involved is incredible.”