Škoda UK Motorsport has revealed Andreas Mikkelsen as its new signing for next year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge, replacing the Peugeot-bound Guy Wilks at the wheel of the team's lone Fabia S2000 Facelift.
The 21-year old Norwegian will be co-driven by Ola Fløene as he joins the works-supported Skoda squad to continue his IRC education, having contested seven rounds of the 2010 series in A Ford Fiesta and finished in the points on four occasions. He came home a close second to Skoda's Juho Hänninen on the RACMSA Rally of Scotland, and most recently won the inaugural Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally.
Mikkelsen has also rallied a Fabia S2000 on the WRC's Rallye de France and will drive the same car, run by Škoda Rally Team Italia, on this weekend's Wales Rally GB – the final round of the World Rally Championship. The reigning GroupN champion in his native Norway also finished a career-best fifth on the 2008 Swedish Rally and became the youngest driver to score points in a WRC event.
“We are delighted to welcome Andreas to the Škoda UK Motorsport team," director Robert Hazelwood commented, "The combination of Andreas' driving talent, his international rally experience, a championship-winning Fabia S2000, and our close relationship with the Škoda Motorsport factory team is a very exciting proposition. We are all greatly looking forward to the challenges ahead, and we are confident that the package we have created for 2011 will allow us to compete for victory in the IRC next year.”
Škoda UK Motorsport's IRC programme will continue to be works supported, and pre-season testing will allow the Marcus Gronholm-mentored Mikkelsen to get acclimatised to the Fabia S2000 and its BF Goodrich tyres before the opening round of the IRC in Monte Carlo next January.
“I am very happy to be asked to join the Škoda family and to be given this opportunity from Škoda UK to do the 2011 IRC," the Norwegian admitted, "It is a fantastic new step in my rally career to be in a Škoda seat with all the experience from Škoda Motorsport. My goal will be to win the championship in 2011 – no more, no less.”
Wilks, who starred on this year's IRC either side of injury, is headed to Peugeot UK as replacement for the WRC-bound Kris Meeke in 2011.