Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Fløene are back in victory lane. After a string of FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) events with bad luck, the Norwegians sprayed champagne from the podium of Rally Estonia. Driving the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo of ŠKODA Motorsport supported team Toksport WRT to WRC2 win on the ultra-fast gravel roads of the Baltics, they strengthened their lead in the category overall standings. “I would like to thank Toksport and ŠKODA for the fantastic car they provided to me and I am happy, that I could repay them with the victory the whole team deserves. The rally was very rough and we had to be smart and control to stay away from troubles”, emphasized Mikkelsen at the finish line.
From the word “go”, Mikkelsen was locked in a fight with fellow Norwegian Mads Østberg. The two former winners of WRC events traded stage wins, only 6.2 seconds separating the two after the morning loop of leg 1. Mikkelsen and co-driver Fløene survived a heart-stopping moment, when their ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo landed heavily on its nose after a jump. When Østberg collected a puncture, Mikkelsen finally was out in front on his own. At the end of the Friday leg, his lead stood already at more than 30 seconds to second placed Nikolay Gryazin. During the second leg, Østberg fought back, but Mikkelsen always had an answer, cleverly managing his lead. Come Saturday evening, Mikkelsen still had 25.9 seconds in hand over Østberg. After a controlled and faultless ride on the final day of the Rally, he won at the end with a margin of 16.7 seconds.
Toksport WRT teammates Marco Bulacia/Marcelo Der Ohannesian (BOL/ARG) delivered a good performance on the fast Estonian gravel roads. On the first stage of final day of the rally, they briefly went off the road, lost seven seconds and the third position in the WRC2 category. One stage later, they fought back and defended the third place up to the finish. With this result, 20 years young Bulacia defended third position overall in the championship standings. “We were very happy with our pace and our ŠKODA which was simply perfect”, Bulacia said.
Rally Estonia marked the world championship premiere at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo for reigning FIA European Rally Champions Alexey Lukyanuk. And the “Russian Rocket” debuted in style. By posting fastest WRC3 time on every single stage during legs 1 and 2, Lukyanuk won the category. Although he rolled his ŠKODA in the last special stage, he managed to finish the rally in eighth position overall.
Second place in WRC3 went to Kajetan Kajetanowicz and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak in another ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. The Polish crew was more than happy with this result. “My main concern were WRC3 points, not fighting with Alexey,” Kajetanowicz revealed. With second place, he closed the gap to category overall leader Yohan Rossel, who skipped Rally Estonia.
In the WRC3 category result, Lukyanuk and Kajetanowicz were followed by seven more ŠKODA crews. “I’m very proud of our customer crews, who took the first nine places in WRC3 at Rally Estonia,” commented Michal Hrabánek, Head of ŠKODA Motorsport. “Congratulations also to Andreas Mikkelsen, who with a category victory has revived his hopes for the WRC2 title.”
Next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is a newcomer to the series. The all-asphalt Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (13 – 15 August) is part of the WRC calendar for the very first time.
Competition debut for the fully electric ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel
Rallye Weiz, fifth round of the Austrian Championship, saw the competition world premiere of a revolutionary rally car. With multiple Austrian rally champion Raimund Baumschlager at the wheel, the fully electric ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel took on conventionally driven Rally2 cars. Homologated with a power output of 260 kW, the concept car based on a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo chassis was on par right from the start. In the end, Baumschlager and co-driver Jürgen Heigl finished an impressive third overall.
Result Rally Estonia (WRC2)
1. Mikkelsen/Fløene (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 3:01:59.0 hrs.
2. Østberg/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Citroën C3 Rally2, +16.7 sec.
3. Bulacia/Der Ohannesian (BOL/ARG), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +28.6 sec.
4. Fourmaux/Jamoul (FRA/FRA), Ford Fiesta Rally2, +56.1 sec.
5. Kristensson/Arhusiander (SWE/SWE), Ford Fiesta Rally2, +5:00.4 min.
6. Linnemäe/Morgan (EST/GBR), VW Polo GTi Rally2, +7:08.4 min.
Championship Standings WRC2/Drivers (after 7 rounds)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 98 points
2. Mads Østberg (NOR), Citroën C3 Rally2, 87 points
3. Marco Bulacia (BOL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 82 points
Result Rally Estonia (WRC3)
1. Lukyanuk/Fedorov (RAF/RAF), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 3:01:54.2 hrs.
2. Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +3:15.9 min.
3. Heikkilä/Luhtinen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +4:14.4 min.
4. Lopéz/Odriozola (ESP/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +4:57.9 min.
5. Jeets/Toom (EST/EST), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +7:17.7 min.
6. Jurkevičius/Paliukėnas (LIT/LIT), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +9:58.5 min.
7. Zaldivar/Del Barrio (PAR/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +10:08.2 min.
8. Fernández/Garcia (CHL/ARG), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +24:16.6 min.
9. Diaz-Aboitiz/Sanjuan de Eusebio (ESP/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +35:00.0 min.
Championship Standings WRC3/Drivers (after 7 rounds)
1. Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 98 points
2. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 82 points
3. Nicolas Ciamin (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 57 points
Number of the rally: 20
On its way to WRC3 victory, Russian ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crew Alexey Lukyanuk/Yaroslav Fedorov won 20 of in total 24 stages.
2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rallye Monte-Carlo 21 – 24 January
Arctic Rally Finland powered by CapitalBox 26 – 28 February
Rally Croatia 22 – 25 April
Vodafone Rally Portugal 20 – 23 May
Rally Italia Sardegna 3 – 6 June
Safari Rally Kenya 24 – 27 June
Rally Estonia 15 – 18 July
Renties Ypres Rally Belgium 13 – 15 August
Acropolis Rally Greece 9 – 12 September
Rally Finland 30 September – 3 October
RallyRACC Rally de España 14 – 17 October
Rally Japan 11 –14 November