Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda posted on 31 May 2011
The greater the sporting challenge, the more Andreas Mikkelsen rises to the occasion. With a reputation for being very fast over unfamiliar roads, the Škoda UK Motorsport star is looking forward to the Prime Yalta Rally (2-4 June), which takes the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) into previously uncharted terrain in southern Ukraine.
There is a science to his ability to start new events well, developed over the last six years with his co-driver, Ola Fløene. A detailed pace note system, strict recce regime and painstaking preparation allows the 21-year old FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy driver to learn new roads quickly and the confidence to drive fast, even on first passes. In addition, his Škoda Fabia S2000 is equally at home on gravel and asphalt, although very limited pre-event running in the rally’s host county will test the engineering skill of the team members, as they try to find the best set up with significantly less pre-rally data than normal.
What Andreas and Škoda UK Motorsporthave found out about the Prime Yalta Rally suggests that the stages range from very fast to twisty and bumpy, and that the surface offers a relatively low level of grip.
The team strategy will be similar to that employed so successfully in Corsica; push hard enough to challenge for a podium result, drive wisely without taking unnecessary risks and aim for a strong points-scoring result.
Round 4 of the IRC is likely to be run in warm and sunny conditions, as the longitudinal co-ordinates for the region are the same as the south of France, with an average June daytime temperature of 20°C. The city of Yalta, an ancient port and fishing settlement dating back to the 12th Century, is sheltered from the cold north wind by the Crimean Mountains and enjoys a cooling sea breeze from the Black Sea, and is often likened to Nice on the Côte d’Azur, to which it is twinned.
Andreas: “The Prime Yalta Rally is new to the IRC and none of the championship contenders have done the rally before, so I feel this could be really good for us. Ola and I have a very good pace note system and I learn new stages quickly, so we are always comfortable driving very fast through new stages for the first time. A nice clean and fast start will be important, because we drive over the same roads many times, so drivers will soon get to know their way around.
“The only thing I’ve heard about the event is that the stages are really challenging and the grip level is low. There are a lot of Tarmac experts in the IRC, so the less that is known about a rally and the more difficult the conditions the better it is for us. Let’s just say we are really looking forward to going to the Ukraine for the first time and hope it’s as big a challenge as everyone predicts it will be.”
The Prime Yalta Rally starts from the city’s Waterfront (where the centralised service area is located) at 13.01 on Thursday 2 June. Two short stages follow, and after just 4.64 miles (7.47kms) of action, Day 1 ends at 14.56. Day 2 (Friday 3 June) begins at 08.01 and contains three stages in the morning – two in the Ai-Petri Mountains and another with dramatic views of the Black Sea. The latter, at 18.07 miles (29.09kms) is the longest stage of the event. After a midday service, the three stages are repeated in the afternoon, before the day ends at 17.45. Day 3 (Saturday 4 June) starts at 07.01 and follows a near identical format, with the same three stages run in the morning and afternoon; albeit in the reverse direction and with the long stage shortened by 6.25 miles (10.06kms). After a total of 162.84 miles (262.07kms) of competition, the rally finishes at 15.14 (local time).