Mikkelsen wins in Estonia, Back in the lead
Andreas Mikkelsen ended Friday’s opening leg at Rally Estonia 12.1sec clear of the WRC2 field – earning most of that advantage in a wet and wild final stage.
A thrilling battle unfolded on the first day of WRC2 with Mikkelsen drawing first blood in the Peipsiääre opener. His early advantage was short-lived, however, when Toksport team-mate Emil Lindholm moved ahead on the very next test and held the top spot for the rest of the morning. The pair were split by just tenths of seconds throughout the afternoon until a front left puncture on the penultimate blast cost Lindholm almost one minute.
Heavy rain in the Vastsemõisa finale left conditions very slippy, almost “like ice”, but Mikkelsen saw it as an opportunity to make a move. He blitzed his rival Suninen by 10.2sec over the treacherous 6.7km test, stretching his lead into double figures overnight.
“It’s been a very good day,” said Mikkelsen. “I think we have been driving cleverly, like in the previous rallies. We pushed when we felt comfortable and played it safe when the risk of punctures was high with the ruts. We have a nice lead for tomorrow now and hopefully we can have a good day. There’s still a long way to go.”
On Saturday, Andreas Mikkelsen measured his pace to perfection to keep WRC2 rival Teemu Suninen at bay. Mikkelsen, won four stages and suffered an early scare on SS13 when the front right tyre came away from the bead. Thankfully the deflation occurred close to the finish and time loss was minimal. The Norwegian started the leg 12.1sec ahead of his rivals and, despite a half-spin on the last corner of the final stage, that gap was reduced by just 1.5sec in 95.02km – with Mikkelsen ahead by 10.6sec at close of play.
On Sunday conditions worsened but Mikkelsen managed the situation quite well. Our driverMarco Bulacia’s podium hopes disintegrated when the Bolivian rolled into retirement on SS23. His demise promoted the chasing pack up a position and handed third to team-mate Emil Lindholm. The Finn ended 1min 37.7sec behind second place and also claimed victory in WRC2 Junior.