10 February 2014
Rally Sweden: 'Ogier’s error could have happened to anyone'
VW co-driver Mikko Markkula has admitted that Sebastien Ogier was unlucky to be caught out by the conditions on Rally Sweden, denying the team a potential 1-2-3 finish.
Andreas Mikkelsen's co-driver Mikko Markkula has admitted that the accident that ruled Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Sebastien Ogier out of the victory battle in Sweden could just as easily gone the way of the other Polo R WRCs.
Ogier led the second round of the 2014 championship until an error on SS8 cost him four-and-a-half minutes, forcing him into a recovery drive that eventually netted sixth place for the Rally Monte Carlo winner. Markkula, who claimed his first WRC podium alongside Mikkelsen after chasing the sister VW of Jari-Matti Latvala through the remainder of the 24 stages, sympathised with the French crew, admitting that the conditions were tricky throughout.
“It's nice to see we can match those other two guys but, then again, wouldn't it be ideal to finish 1-2-3 with Volkswagen?” he commented, “Unfortunately, Sébastien did a small mistake and [the result] ended up like that, but it could have happened to any one of us.”
Mikkelsen was overjoyed to have landed his first WRC podium, particularly so close to his native Norway, although he admits that his focus switched away from chasing victory in the closing stages.
“Coming into the event, I really wanted to put on a good display and I knew Rally Sweden was one of my strongest events, even though I haven't done it in a World Rally Car since 2008,” he noted, “We had a good test and I was really hoping for this - I knew, if I had a perfect weekend, I could end up on the podium. When we started the rally, we were already fighting for the lead, and basically [continued] throughout the whole rally except for the second stage this morning where I did a mistake. After that, it was all about securing the second place.
“The first stage [this morning] was really tricky and we decided after five or six kilometres that, now the conditions are difficult, let's be a little bit smart, drive fast but not taking any risks. Then, on the second stage, [there was] a stupid mistake from me when I went into a corner too quickly and filled the front of the car with snow. We just had to carry on out of the stage on road mode because the engine [temperature] was running up. After that, it was too far to Jari, so we said 'let's secure the second place'.
Having lost 20 seconds with his error, Mikkelsen dropped into the clutches of fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg, but managed to resist the Citroen driver to hold on to runners-up spot.
“I'm very happy with the performance,” he said, “I never came to that point where I said 'let's give it everything and hope for the best…'. I managed to really control the driving, took the small risk where I had to and stayed safe where I could. I'm happy with the way I controlled my rally.
“[The last stage nerves weren't] so bad – it was much worse last night. I woke four or five times thinking of different situations. In the last section, in the ski area, it was terrible, my legs were shaking, it was the most tricky section of whole rally. I took it very steady....”
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