At the iconic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship ended in style. ACI Rally Monza, brought into the calendar on short notice, turned out as most dramatic. Already on Friday’s first leg, completely run inside the boundaries of the famous Italian F1 race track, the teams had to fight heavy rain and extremely slippery conditions. Only Andreas Mikkelsen from Norway, driving an Eurosol Racing Team Hungary prepared ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, seemed unimpressed. In WRC3, the former factory driver was a class of his own, building up a lead of nearly one minute until day’s end. Finnish ŠKODA privateers Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen held second from ŠKODA Motorsport supported Oliver Solberg (SWE), who lost some time after stalling the engine. ŠKODA also was the leading car in WRC2 with Pontus Tidemand targeting his second WRC2 title after 2017. Competing in their first WRC rally of 2020, Jan Kopecký (CZE) and co-driver Jan Hloušek (CZE) in the second Toksport WRT Team run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo struggled to get up to speed in these challenging conditions and settled for category fourth.
The second leg saw the teams tackle small and winding roads high up in the nearby mountains. While the stages were only partly snow covered in the morning, the afternoon saw a proper winter storm hitting Lombardy. Two stages even had to be cancelled for safety reasons. In WRC3, Oliver Solberg overtook Emil Lindholm and launched an impressive attack on Andreas Mikkelsen, who was not happy with his tyre choice and also had a technical issue. When the rally came back to Monza, Mikkelsen’s lead over Solberg was down to 14.3 seconds. In WRC2, Pontus Tidemand gambled with the tyre choice for his ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. While he fell back to category fourth in the morning, he took revenge in the afternoon and immediately made up lost ground. Unfortunately, the cancellation of 37 stages kilometres meant he only could fight back to second in WRC2.
Sunday with another three stages inside the Royal Park of Monza brought no changes to the WRC2 and WRC3 classifications. With two more stage wins during the final leg Andreas Mikkelsen secured WRC3 victory. Oliver Solberg had to settle for second. „It’s been one of the most difficult rallies of my life. But I’m really happy with the performance and the experience I gained,“ said the 19 years old reigning ERC1 Junior title winner of the FIA European Rally Championship. Mikkelsen even achieved sixth position in the overall classification, followed by Solberg in seventh. Second WRC2 place for Pontus Tidemand made him miss out on the category title. “We did what we could, but this time it wasn’t enough,“ Tidemand concluded.
The season finale also saw strong performances from other ŠKODA private teams. Jan Kopecký/Jan Hloušek finished third in WRC2. Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen ended up fourth in WRC3 with Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak coming home two places further down. Although the extreme road conditions were anything than ideal for his first rally ever, former DTM factory driver Maro Engel brought the Toksport WRT Team run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo to the finish in one piece. The German came to Monza fresh from third overall in 2020 ADAC GT Masters, also racing for Toksport. “It’s been my dream to drive a rally since a long time. When the ACI Rally Monza was added to the calendar, the decision was easy,” Engel said. Guided by experienced Austrian co-driver Ilka Minor, he finished in 13th position amongst 52 competitors in RC2 class.
“Congratulations to Andreas Mikkelsen and Oliver Solberg for handing ŠKODA a 1-2 result in WRC3. Pontus Tidemand was very unlucky, that the cancellation of stages compromised his fight for WRC2 title,” ŠKODA Motorsport Team Manager Pavel Hortek said. “Also hats off to all private ŠKODA teams for delivering a great performance in such difficult conditions.”
Result Rally Monza (WRC3)
1. Mikkelsen/Jæger (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 2:19:47.2 hrs.
2. Solberg/Johnston (SWE/IRL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, + 15.9 sec.
3. Huttunen/Lukka (FIN/FIN), Hyundai i20 Rally2, + 1:19.2 min.
4. Lindholm/Korhonen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, + 1:57.8 min.
5. Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, + 3:38.3 min.
6. Bulacia Wilkinson/Der Ohannesian (BOL/ARG), Citroën C3 Rally2, + 4:51.6 min.
Result ACI Rally Monza (WRC2)
1. Østberg/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Citroën C3 Rally2, + 2:21:18.4 hrs.
2. Tidemand/Barth (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, + 25.6 sec.
3. Kopecký/Hloušek (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, + 1:23.3 min.
4. Fourmaux/Jamoul (FRA/BEL), Ford Fiesta Rally2, + 29:20.4 min.
Number of the day: 7
Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger, sharing a Eurosol Racing Team Hungary prepared ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, score seven WRC3 victories on the 14 properly run stages.
The calendar of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship
Italia Sardegna 08/10/–11/10/2020