Andreas Mikkelsen started the championship’s only proper winter rally cautiously. “I am trying not to take any risks – it’s too early to go flat-out and it’s very easy to make a mistake. We are trying to be clever and drive at a good pace,“ he said after the opening stages. But the reigning WRC2 Champion from Norway soon realized, that “not to take any risk“ would mean to wave good-bye to all hopes of winning the category. Consequently, the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crew changed its strategy and increased the pace. And it worked. After the end of the Friday leg, Mikkelsen/Eriksen had conquered the category lead with an advantage of 4.1 seconds over fellow Norwegians Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjærmoen.
Mikkelsen’s Toksport WRT teammates Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov followed in third, at that point leading the WRC2 Juniors’ classification. They defended that position until Sunday morning. But during the penultimate stage, their ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo ended up in a snow bank. Similar incidents costed Finnish Rally Champions Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen and South-Americans Marco Bulacia/Marcelo der Ohannesian (BOL/ARG), both crews driving Toksport WRT run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, all chances for a top result.
Meanwhile, Mikkelsen/Eriksen and Veiby/Skjærmoen continued their fight for WRC2 victory. Mikkelsen even had to give P1 to Veiby for one stage on Saturday. But in the following test, he re-established the order again. Only during the final leg on Sunday, the duel seemed to be settled. Mikkelsen/Eriksen extended their lead, in the end winning by 23.2 seconds. “It’s been one of my best fights. Ole Christian has been doing a great rally. I know he has worked super hard over the last twelve months, so I am really happy for him to come here and deliver such a good result,” Mikkelsen was full of praise for his opponent. Nevertheless, with the second WRC2 victory in as many rallies, his project title defence couldn’t have a better start.
While WRC2 regular Marco Bulacia experienced bad luck, his 19 years young brother Bruno enjoyed his first ever WRC event to the fullest. Navigated by experienced Marc Martí from Spain, formerly co-driver to Carlos Sainz and Dani Sordo, Bulacia brought his Toksport WRT run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo to the finish in WRC2 position nine.
After ice and snow covered roads during Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden, the FIA World Rally Championship next switches to pure asphalt. Next on the calendar is Rally Croatia (21-24 April 2022).
Result Rally Sweden (WRC2)
|1.||Mikkelsen/Eriksen (N/N), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo||2:17:56,0 hrs.|
|2.||Veiby/Skjærmoen (N/N), VW Polo GTI Rally2||+23,2|
|3.||Huttunen/Lukka (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta Mk2 Rally2||+1:03,1|
|4.||Kaur/Simm (EST/EST), VW Polo GTI Rally2||+1:13,7|
|5.||Linnamäe/Morgan (EST/GB), VW Polo GTI Rally2||+1:24.9|
|6.||Pietarinen/Linnaketo (FIN/FIN), VW Polo GTI Rally2||+1:42,7|
Number of the rally: 0.8
The duel between ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crew Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen and Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjærmoen was extremely close. After stage 10, both Norwegian duos were separated by 0.8 seconds only.
The FIA World Rally Championship 2022
|Rallye Monte-Carlo||20 – 23 January|
|Rally Sweden||24 – 27 February|
|Rally Croatia||21 – 24 April|
|Rally Portugal||19 – 22 May|
|Rally Italy Sardinia||2 – 5 June|
|Safari Rally Kenya||23 – 26 June|
|Rally Estonia||14 – 17 July|
|Rally Finland||4 – 7 August|
|Ypres Rally (Belgium)||18 – 21 August|
|Acropolis Rally Greece||8 – 11 September|
|Rally New Zealand||29 September – 2 October|
|RallyRACC Rally de España||20 – 23 October|
|Rally Japan||10 – 13 November|