Former World Rally Championship event winner Andreas Mikkelsen will make his return to the sport’s premier category at Rally Italia Sardegna this weekend, and despite being out of a top drive for half a season, feels he has nothing to prove on his return.
Having lost his place with Volkswagen after the German marque’s withdrawal at the end of last season, the Norwegian is a late addition to the factory Citroën squad, but despite the short-term nature of his deal, does not feel under pressure to demonstrate his abilities.
“I don’t feel I need to prove I have the speed,” he said. “The last round of the WRC we did, we won.”
“For me it’s to get the mileage in the car and bringing my experience to the team and hopefully improve everything. So far it’s only this rally and hopefully we can do a good rally and maybe there will be more.”
Having only secured his seat a little over a fortnight ago, Mikkelsen explained neither he nor the team had set any specific targets for the rally, with his expected performance being a complete unknown for both sides.
“Nobody from the team really expects me to deliver a great result here,” he continued. “I’ve had one day in the car which at this level isn’t much. The level is really high now in the WRC and if you want to fight at the front, you really have to know your car.”
Despite the pre-event uncertainty over his pace, Mikkelsen surprised many by being the fastest Citroën in the Rally Italia shakedown, setting the equal fourth fastest time, only 1.4 seconds behind pacesetter Dani Sordo in his Hyundai i20.
Between his single test day before the rally, and his seven passes through today’s shakedown, Mikkelsen has only managed to accrue around 300 kilometres of competitive driving in the C3, and so despite his promising early pace today, the outcome of his 2017 debut remains a mystery.
“I’ve not been driving these cars for a long time so it’s hard to know what to expect results wise. I just will drive with my feeling and we’ll see where we are at the end.”