Early start for Andreas Mikkelsen in Portugal

In Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico Volkswagen Motorsport pretty much demolished any remaining doubts regarding their ability to compete for both titles in team’s maiden WRC season. For Rally Portugal, round four of 2013 championship season, Volkswagen will further strengthen their line-up with the addition of Norwegian-Finnsh crew of Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Miiko Markkula.

With Portugal being their first event in Polo R WRC, Mikkelsen and Markkula are cautious. On the other hand, we learned already not to trust Volkswagen. They tell you not to expect too much, then they beat you to a pulp.

Can Citroën finally bounce back in Portugal? Can Qatar MWRT keep the momentum? But most of all, can Mikkelsen catch up quickly? Perhaps not in Portugal, but if his IRC exploits are anything to go by, it won’t be long before he starts pushing both Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. And latter should be particularly mindful of Mikkelsen’s pace.

As a prepraration for Rally Portugal, Ogier and Mikkelsen will compete in Fafe Sprint event. Curiously, Latvala will skip the spectacular rally show – not a bad decision, better play it safe! Mikkelsen will, on the other hand, be able to get more familiar with the Polo, ahead of his debut for Volkswagen.

Full throttle over one of the most famous jumps in rallying – a tasty appetiser ahead of the Rally Portugal. This year, Volkswagen Motorsport will take part in the “Fafe Rally Sprint” for the first time. More than 100,000 spectators are expected at the show event in northern Portugal on Saturday 6th April 2013. Lining up in Fafe: the winners of the rallies in Sweden and Mexico, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F), and, for the first time in the Polo R WRC, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula (N/FIN). Beginning with the Rally Portugal, the Nordic duo will compete for Volkswagen Motorsport in the third Polo R WRC at all the remaining rounds of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The 6.34-kilometre section of the iconic Lameirinha stage no longer officially forms part of the Rally Portugal. Just as it did last year, however, it will herald the start of the rally week. “We are really looking forward to lining up in Fafe for the first time,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “Sébastien and Julien will be in close contact with thousands of Portuguese fans at the ‘Rally Sprint’, and will be out to put on a good show for them. The event also offers Andreas and Mikko the opportunity to test the Polo R WRC under competitive conditions for the first time, and to familiarise themselves with the atmosphere before they make their WRC debut in the Polo R WRC the following week.”

The crowds in Fafe are in for a spectacular show: the teams must battle their way through two qualifying rounds on the way to the final. The fastest time in the final wins the “Fafe Rally Sprint”. Another extremely popular feature with the fans is the competition to see who can remain airborne for the longest over one of the most challenging jumps in rallying. The record, which was set by Armin Schwarz in a Škoda Octavia WRC in 2000, currently stands at 73.5 metres.

As well as Volkswagen, a number of other WRC teams have also confirmed that they will be competing at the cult event. The Rally Portugal gets underway with qualifying on Thursday 11th April 2013 and ends with the podium ceremony at Algarve Stadium between the cities of Faro and Loulé.