IRC: Mikkelsen confident of Barum Rally chances

Andreas Mikkelsen has completed his preparations for the Barum Czech Rally Zlin this weekend following a successful test with the Hankook motorsport team.

The young Norwegian prodigy travelled to the UK to get his first taste of the Opel Corsa he will be driving in the Czech round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) starting on 21 August. Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Fløene – the pair seeded number five for the event based in the Moravian town of Zlin – managed to get a full day's mileage under their belts, clocking what MSD managing director David Whitehead called 'extremely quick' times.

“Andreas was extremely quick in the car from the outset, and has a very mature attitude which is going to help us ensure the best set-up for the car in the Czech Republic and for next year,” Whitehead remarked. “It was very much a familiarisation session for the crew, and all we need to do now is fine-tune a few settings before the Barum Rally.”

Hankook motorsport manager Mike Patterson was similarly effusive about Mikkelsen's performance during testing.

“Andreas was really impressed with the car and tyre package,'' he reported. “MSD has developed a car we hope will be unbeatable next year, and with Andreas at the wheel in the Czech Republic we know the car is going to be in extremely capable hands.”

The demanding asphalt roads on the Barum Rally look set to provide a comprehensive test for the car, with the mix of slow, technical sections and fast straights providing the perfect combination for MSD and Hankook to gain valuable data about the Corsa. Mikkelsen professed himself happy with the result of his preparations and claims first impressions of the car are very promising.

“I have not tested many S2000 cars, but my first impression of this car is very good,” remarked the 20-year-old. “I believe that together with MSD and Hankook, we can develop a very competitive car for 2010. I'm really looking forward to Rally Barum and the IRC, which will be a new experience for me.”

The Hankook liveried machine is taking part in a handful of rallies this year – with events in in Spain, San Remo and Scotland all still on the agenda – in preparation for a full assault on the IRC in 2010.

“The mix of rallies chosen for 2009 will give the team valuable experience on both asphalt and gravel surfaces and ensure maximum opportunity for tyre development before the 2010 season gets underway,” concluded Patterson.
by Matthew Briggs

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