› At the FIA World Rally Championship’s seventh round, reigning WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen celebrate third category win of the season
› Andreas Mikkelsen takes lead in WRC2 Drivers’ classification from Kajetan Kajetanowicz (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo), who finishes in fifth position
› Finns Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen drive a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo to victory in WRC2 Junior class
Tartu (EST), 17 July 2022 – Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen won WRC2 at Rally Estonia, seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Driving a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo of Team Toksport WRT to third category victory of the season, defending WRC2 Drivers’ champion Mikkelsen is back on top of the overall rankings.
During the first leg on the fast gravel stages in the Tartu region, four crews swapped the WRC2 lead. Amongst them: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (NOR/NOR) and Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN/FIN), both crews in Toksport WRT run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. In stage 8, reigning Finnish champion Lindholm collected a puncture and lost nearly a minute. Consequently, Mikkelsen took over top spot of the category. “I pushed when I felt comfortable and played it safe when the risk of punctures was high with the ruts,“ Mikkelsen summed up his day.
Marco Bulacia at the wheel of another Toksport WRT run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo ended the Friday leg third WRC2. The 21 years old Bolivian and Spanish co-driver Diego Vallejo also lead the WRC2 Junior category ahead of Lindholm/Hämäläinen. Kajetan Kajetanowicz and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) from Poland, who came to Rally Estonia as WRC2 overall leaders, finished the first leg in sixth position.
The second leg saw Mikkelsen/Eriksen and Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (FIN/FIN) fight for the WRC2 lead. The ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crew from Norway won four stages, surviving a scare when a tyre deflated. Mikkelsen/Eriksen started into Saturday with a 12.1 seconds advantage over their Finnish rivals. When the dust had settled in the evening, the gap stood at 10.6 seconds – just 1.5 seconds was Suninen’s reward for a full day of hard work. “It will be a big fight with Teemu on Sunday,” Mikkelsen looked ahead. “Maybe I have to increase the speed a little bit, in case he goes all out.”
Behind the two front-runners, things basically had been settled. Bulacia/Vallejo defended third position against the charging Lindholm/Hämäläinen duo with Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak comfortably in sixth.
The final leg brought rain, which made conditions on the stages, especially the grip level, very unpredictable. Numerous crews ended off the road, including WRC2 Junior leaders Bulacia/Vallejo. Unimpressed, Mikkelsen attacked in the morning, increasing his lead over Suninen. A more cautious approach later on brought his lead down to 3.2 seconds going into the rally ending Power Stage. “There was a lot of water in the lines and I had a lot of aquaplaning,“ Mikkelsen described.
But the last 15.95 kilometres couldn’t stop him and co-driver Torstein Eriksen from winning WRC2 for the third time this season. With this success, Andreas Mikkelsen regains top spot of the WRC2 overall rankings lead. He leads Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who eventually came home fifth in WRC2, by three points
Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen finished third overall, at the same time winning the WRC2 Junior category. Chilean Emilio Fernández and Spanish co-driver Axel Coronado Jiménez, sharing another ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo of team Toksport WRT, followed in sixth position. Italians Mauro Miele/Luca Beltrame of ŠKODA Motorsport customer team DreamOne Racing celebrated victory in the WRC2 Masters class.
In its third edition, Rally Estonia again lived up to its reputation as one of the fastest rallies on the championship calendar. Despite several show stages with lots of tight corners and short straights, the overall average speed for WRC2 winners Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen was 101.5 kph.
Mega-fast gravel stages make up the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship as well. Rally Finland (4-7 August 2022) is less than three weeks away.
Result Rally Estonia (WRC2)
1. Mikkelsen/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 3:05:30.8 hrs
2. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN), Hyundai i20N Rally2, +25.3 sec
3. Lindholm/Hämäläinen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +2:03.0 min
4. Huttunen/Lukka (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta Rally2, +3:27.0 min
5. Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +5:06.9 min
6. Fernández/Jiménez (CHL/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +5:29.2 min
Number of the rally: 117.9
Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen powered their ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo through stage 4 with a time of 10:55.2 minutes. In other words: The average speed of the reigning Finnish champions was 117.9 kph.
Top-5 overall WRC2 Open/Drivers (after 7 of 13 rounds)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 79 points
2. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 76 points
3. Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 63 points
4. Nikolay Gryazin (ANA), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 52 points
5. Jari Huttunen (FIN), Ford Fiesta Rally2, 45 points