Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger will make a return to a top-flight FIA World Rally Championship drive in June at the wheel of the #9 Citroën C3 WRC.
The Former Volkswagen works driver has been left without a regular drive in the series after the announcement that the German marque would be leaving the sport. Mikkelsen has made three appearances in the WRC2 class for Skoda, taking two wins (and a DNF) this year.
For Rally Italia Sardegna, Citroën will be dropping Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau in favour for the former WRC rally winners.
“After the first six rounds of the season, it would appear that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT’s results have fallen a little short of the targets set at the start of the year.” explained Citroën Racing Team Principal Yves Matton.
“At the same time, Andreas Mikkelsen has been actively looking for a drive in the WRC’s top category. We have therefore come to an agreement for him to compete at Rally Italia Sardegna in one of our C3 WRCs.
“I think I can say that we are all delighted with this opportunity! Andreas has a fair amount of experience at this rally, which is not the case for us since the Abu Dhabi Total WRT didn’t compete in Sardinia last year.
“Given his limited preparation, Andreas won’t have a specific target for the rally. We’ll be just looking for him to drive at a pace that is consistent with how comfortable he feels in the car.
“We would like to thank the FIA and Skoda Motorsport for agreeing to this change and Stéphane Lefebvre, who is giving up his place on this rally.”
Despite this move the Frenchman will be back in the driving seat in Poland and also take part in the pre-event recce for Italy.
“This is not a sanction of any kind, nor does it call into question our investment in the young drivers. The decision is merely intended to maximise Citroën’s chances. Stéphane accepted that it was necessary to put the team first in this case; he will still be in Sardinia to take part in recce and will then be competing at Rally Poland.” added Matton.
A delighted Mikkelsen revealed his thoughts on the opportunity, “It’s an open secret that I have been looking for a solution to keep competing in the top category of the WRC since the end of the 2016 season. I’m therefore very happy to be joining the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Italia Sardegna.
“Citroën has an impressive competitive record in the WRC and I’m delighted to be able to work with a team like this. In winning the season’s opening gravel rally, the Citroën C3 WRC has shown it has potential and it seems to be making regular progress.
“I can’t wait to get my bearings in testing and then start working on preparing for the rally. I’ll no doubt be short of running time in the car at the start, but the main thing for me is to be back racing in the leading category in a strong team.
“I would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this opportunity possible.”