Talk about stepping into the unknown: 24-year-old Andreas Mikkelsen has never been to Australia before, not even for a tourist trip, and yet in just a few days time he'll be charging around the unique Antipodean terrain at full speed in the latest round of the 2013 World Rally Championship.

To cap it all he'll have a new co-driver for the event, with his regular partner Mikko Markkula taking an injury-enforced break and having to miss the trip to Coffs Harbour, where Rally Australia's base camp is situated.

Intead Mikkelsen is joined in the co-driver seat by an experienced replacement in Ireland's Paul Nagle, who like Mikkelsen capped his time in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by winning the title in 2009 and who currently competed in the FIA European Rally Championship as co-driver to compatriot Craig Breen.

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"I know Paul from earlier rallies," Mikkelsen revealed. "I raced against him at the Rally Ireland when I was 17. We also know each other from the IRC, where he was Kris Meeke's co-driver. I have no doubt that he will do a good job."

Nagle is certain looking forward to the opportunity of joining the leading manufacturer in the WRC in 2013.

"Volkswagen is an extraordinary team," he said. "It is an absolute pleasure to work with this crew. Everyone knows exactly what they are doing and, as a newcomer, you get as much support as physically possible.

"Andreas is an outstanding driver, and this is a fantastic opportunity for me to compete as a co-driver for Volkswagen," he added. Even so, there are inevitably differences in the way the drivers work, and Nagle said he was busy getting himself prepared to fit in with what Mikkelsen needs from him in Australia.

"I adapted to Andreas' pace notes system quite quickly," he said. "There are obviously a few things that are a bit different. However, after a few hours of testing I had already taken them in. We will concentrate particularly hard on them during the recce."

For now, the arrangement with Nagle is a one-off deal, with Markkula expected to be able to return to competition in time for the Rallye de France-Alsace at the start of October.

In the meantime, far more of a concern for Mikkelsen is his complete lack of familiarity with Australia and the terrain around the coastal city of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, located midway between Sydney and Brisbane.

"Rally Australia will be far less familiar to me," the Norwegian admitted. "The furthest I have ever travelled before was Thailand! The rally is completely new territory for me.

"However, the other drivers will not have a great deal more experience than me, as many of this year's special stages will be new," he pointed out.

We will travel to Australia early, in order to become accustomed to everything and to get to know each other a bit better," he added. "I think Paul and I will have a good rally."