Strong ŠKODA line-up at the Rallye Monte-Carlo: WRC2-Champion Mikkelsen has sights set on victory

› WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) aims to repeat last year’s category win in the first round of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship
› ŠKODA Motorsport-backed Toksport WRT fields two more ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo cars for Marco Bulacia (BOL) and Russian Nikolay Gryazin
› Former ŠKODA factory driver Freddy Loix from Belgium makes his comeback to the FIA World Rally Championship in a privately entered ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo

Mladá Boleslav, 18 January 2022 – Next weekend’s Rallye Monte-Carlo (20 – 23 January 2022) will open the FIA World Rally Championship, with the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo once again making up a large part of the WRC2 field. The ŠKODA Motorsport-backed team Toksport WRT alone will be entering three ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo cars for Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Marco Bulacia/Marcelo Der Ohannesian (BOL/ARG) and Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov from Russia. Standing out among private ŠKODA drivers is the four-time Belgian rally champion Freddy Loix, who will be starting alongside co-driver Pieter Tsjoen.

Andreas Mikkelsen can look back on one of the most successful seasons of his career. Driving a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo from team Toksport WRT, he won the WRC2 category of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2021 as well as the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) overall. This impressively builds on his previous successes in ŠKODA rally cars; Mikkelsen won the Intercontinental Rally Championship (IRC) in 2011 and 2012 in a FABIA S2000.

On his return to ŠKODA at the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo, Mikkelsen not only won the WRC2 category; he also finished seventh overall – surrounded by more powerful WRC1 cars. In January 2021, the Norwegian was able to repeat this success. Driving a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo entered by Team Toksport WRT, Mikkelsen once again brought home a WRC2 category win, finishing seventh overall. Asked about his goals for the upcoming start of the 2022 season, he said, “I want to lay the foundation for defending the title with another WRC2 victory. Of course, I also want to finish as high up in the overall standings as possible again.”

Mikkelsen’s teammate at Toksport WRT is 21-year-old Marco Bulacia from Bolivia, who will be listening to his Argentine co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesian calling the notes in the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. Bulacia finished the 2021 season fourth overall in the WRC2 drivers’ standings. “Last year’s Monte was our first ever rally where we alternated between asphalt, ice and snow. We learned a lot, I want to build on this experience, and I still treat this legendary rally with the respect it deserves,” Bulacia emphasises.

The Russian duo Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov switched to a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo for the RallyRACC Rally de España in autumn 2021, achieving second place in their class straight off the bat. In December, they won the Rally National Hivernal du Dévoluy in France in the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. Armed with this experience, Gryazin/Aleksandrov will now tackle their third start at the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Like their Belgian veterans and brand colleagues Freddy Loix/Pieter Tsjoen (BEL/BEL), they are among the favourites in the field of Rally2 competitors. Four-time Belgian Rally Champion and former ŠKODA works driver Loix comes to the season opener with two podium finishes at the Rallye Monte-Carlo under his belt, having finished second overall in both 2009 and 2011.

The Rallye Monte-Carlo gets underway on Thursday (20 January) at 18:45 in front of the Principality’s casino, followed by two special stages over roughly 38 kilometres. On Friday
(21 January), the drivers will face six special stages, followed by five special stages on Saturday (22 January). On both days the teams have to manage without a service break at lunchtime. Sunday (23 January) has another four special stages in store. All in all, there are 17 special stages, covering a total distance of around 296 kilometres.

New for the 2022 season
In the past, Rally2 cars like the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo were eligible to compete in both the WRC2 and WRC3 in the FIA World Rally Championship. Beginning with the 2022 season, the governing body FIA has introduced a new system. Starting with the Rallye Monte-Carlo, WRC2 is dedicated to Rally2 cars only, while WRC3 will be the category for the technologically less sophisticated Rally3 cars. This will make the competition in both categories fiercer than ever. Various classifications have been announced in the WRC2 category, the most important being titles for drivers, teams and juniors born after 1 January 1992.

The controlled petrol supplied to all cars taking part in WRC events is now made exclusively from sustainable resources, for example, bio waste.

Did you know, that…

… the Rallye Monte-Carlo was first held in 1911, making it the longest-standing event on the current WRC calendar?

…the rally was originally conceived to boost tourism in Monaco even in the otherwise less attractive winter months?

…the participants started all over Europe and even North Africa to a common meeting point in Monte-Carlo or France before the actual competition started – up to and including 1998 (in that year, the works teams were excluded)?

…choosing the right tyres at the Monte is extremely difficult and can make all the difference? The teams compete in up to four special stages without a service, relying on the four tyres they have mounted plus a maximum of two spare wheels. So, the choice of tyres is almost always a compromise; while one stage may be covered in deep snow, the next may be icy, wet or even completely dry.

…this is the reason for some strange tyre combinations? Occasionally, snow tyres with studs are mounted together with almost treadless slicks in a wide variety of configurations so that they are as well-equipped as possible for all conceivable road conditions.

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
Event still to be decided 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