- Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger impress on guest appearance in the ŠKODA FABIA R5 and take a lead of 2:47.4 minutes over team-mates Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler into the final two days of the rally
- 40 years after historic triumph: spectators enjoy special livery on the works team’s three FABIA R5s
- Mikkelsen: “I am very happy with the ŠKODA FABIA R5!”
Gap/France, 20 January 2017 – Andreas Mikkelsen (N) dominated the early stages of the 85th Rally Monte Carlo on his guest appearance with the ŠKODA Motorsport works team. A lot of snow and ice are making the opening round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2) far from easy, but Mikkelsen and his co-driver Anders Jæger (N) passed every test with flying colours in the ŠKODA FABIA R5. The successful duo lead the WRC 2 class and head into the final two days of the most famous and oldest rally in the world with a lead of 2:47.4 minutes over ŠKODA team-mates Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ).
“I am very happy with the ŠKODA FABIA R5! It goes without saying that it was a big adjustment at first, but we started cautiously and then gradually upped the tempo. We now feel right at home in the car, although they were really extremely difficult conditions,” said Mikkelsen. The 27-year-old Norwegian was part of the Volkswagen Motorsport team that won the World Rally Championship in each of the past four years. However, Mikkelsen’s route to becoming one of the top rally drivers in the world started with titles in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011 and 2012 with ŠKODA.
Returning to his roots, the fan favourite won his first special stage in the ŠKODA FABIA R5 shortly after the official start in glamorous Monte Carlo on Thursday. On Friday, ŠKODA works driver Kopecký was the fastest man at first, but Mikkelsen then upped the pace on the narrow, winding roads. The Norwegian was a full 46.5 seconds faster than second-placed Frenchman Bryan Bouffier the first time the drivers tackled “Aspres les Corps – Chaillol” – at 38.94 kilometres the longest stage on the Monte. Mikkelsen has won six of the seven special stages so far. Jan Kopecký lost a lot of time due to a puncture on Friday morning, but fought his way back to end the opening day in second place in WRC 2.
“I hope we can defend this position. There is still a long way to go, and we will continue to fight hard,” said Czech champion Kopecký. ŠKODA works duo Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S), who are not eligible to score world championship points at this rally, also impressed. Tidemand showed his potential with a number of top-three times on his first outing at the Monte. His goal is to present ŠKODA Motorsport with another world championship title this year. In 2016, the works team from Mladá Boleslav won the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship in WRC 2 for the first time, courtesy of Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) in the ŠKODA FABIA R5.
The thousands of fans lining the route were treated to a special livery on the works team’s three ŠKODA FABIA R5s. The blue and red stripes on the rally cars are a nod to the manufacturer’s legendary victory at this very event 40 years ago. Four decades ago, Václav Blahna (CZ) and his co-driver Lubislav Hlávka (CZ) triumphed in the 1,300 cc class in their ŠKODA 130 RS. The works team is now well on track to repeat this feat in 2017. However, they have yet to complete half of the kilometres against the clock: another 175 kilometres await Mikkelsen and Co. on Saturday and Sunday.