MIKKELSEN LANDS SKODA MONTE DRIVE

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MIKKELSEN LANDS SKODA MONTE DRIVE

THE immediate future of Rally Australia winner Andreas Mikkelsen has been resolved, with the Norwegian being announced today to guest-drive a factory Skoda Fabia R5 in the opening round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship at Rallye Monte-Carlo next month.

Mikkelsen, 27, was out of a job virtually as soon as he claimed victory last month at Kennards Hire Rally Australia, with his Volkswagen Motorsport team having announced in the event lead-up that it was quitting the championship.

With teammates Sébastien Ogier going to M-Sport and Jari-Matti Latvala to Toyota, Mikkelsen is one of the last elite WRC drivers still without a seat for 2017.

His drive with Skoda – a subsidiary of his former employer – returns Mikkelsen to the early days of his WRC career. However, there has been no mention of longer-term plans for Mikkelsen, now one of the top WRC drivers.

He began his rise to the top with titles in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011 and 2012, in a Skoda Fabia S2000. Graduating to Volkswagen Motorsport, he went on to finish third overall in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 WRC.

“It feels like I am coming home. Skoda gave me an opportunity right at the start of my career,” Mikkelsen said.

“I have so many fond memories of the Skoda Fabia and am really looking forward to getting back in that car. I hope I can get a good result for Skoda, although the Monte is a very difficult rally.”

A second Fabia R5 will be driven by regular factory pilot Pontus Tidemand at Monte-Carlo, which starts on 19 January.