Skoda UK Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen is confident ahead of the fifth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the Ypres Rally in Belgium.

It will be the first event in 2011 that the Norwegian, who turned 22 yesterday (Wednesday), has contested before. 80% of the route for this year's Ypres Rally is the same as it was last year, when Mikkelsen finished fifth.

Punctures on the previous two rounds of the season in Corsica and Ukraine have cost Mikkelsen the chance of a podium result. He knows that, with a bit more luck on his side, he can score a top result in Belgium, despite tough competition.

“The Ypres Rally will be very tough, especially against the local drivers like Freddy Loix and Thierry Neuville who know the roads so well, but we still have the possibility to do very well ourselves,” he said.

“Our pace has been getting better and better in the Fabia S2000 this year and now we are up with the fastest in the IRC. We made good progress in Corsica and then took another step up in Ukraine, and we can go even faster still. Ypres is the first rally in this year's IRC that I have done before and eighty per cent of the stages are the same as last year.

“I think that with a good recce and very good pace notes we can really challenge for a top finish. We've had a little bit of bad luck this year, but I have a very good feeling about Ypres.”

The Skoda UK car will be one of 31 Super 2000 cars on the rally, and one of 13 Skoda Fabia S2000s taking part. Amongst those will also be Ulsterman Jonathan Greer and Ireland's Robert Barrable, who currently lie third and seventh respectively in the British Rally Championship standings.