Volkswagen Motorsport II driver Andreas Mikkelsen believes his decision to change co-drivers will not affect how he performs on Rally Italia Sardegna.
Mikkelsen recently parted company with Mikko Markkula
and will link up with Ola Floene again for round six of WRC 2014.
“It is great to have Ola back in the cockpit. We might not have been able to tests prior to the Rally Italy, but I don't think that will be a problem,” confirmed Mikkelsen, who worked with Floene from 2006 to 2012. “We have both known each other for such a long time, and have only been apart for a short time.
“We will not change anything with regards the pace notes – apart from the fact that they will now be in Norwegian again, rather than English. Whatever happens, the goal will be to complete a clean, error-free rally.”
Pressed on his target for the event, Mikkelsen replied: “A top-five result would ultimately be fantastic. If you analyse previous years at the Rally Sardinia, you will see that many drivers have been hit by punctures or retirements. As such, the priority will be not to do anything stupid and to look after the car.”
“I am particularly looking forward to the 'Monte Lerno' special stage with Mickey's Jump, which is a genuine highlight every year. At almost 60 kilometres it is the longest stage of the year so far. It doesn't make much difference to me whether it is a long stage or a short one, as I believe I am in good physical condition. However, alternating between short sprints and long special stages is good for the drivers, co-drivers and spectators and the Rally Italy does exactly that,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Floene, who last year won the JWRC title with Pontus Tidemand, said he can't wait to work again with Mikkelsen, even if it 'hasn't really sunk in yet'.
“Lining up as a co-driver in the JWRC was a fantastic experience last year. It gave me a new life and competitive spirit, and restored my love of rallying. And I trained for up to 16 hours per day – for 18 months – in order to prove my fitness alongside against the young athletes. As such, I am not only ultra-motivated, but also the fittest I have ever been,” said Floene.
“A week ago I visited the team headquarters of Volkswagen Motorsport in Hanover for the first time for over a year. That was a bit like I was dreaming,” he added.
“The first thing I did was to go and say hello to the mechanics in the workshop. I was given a warm welcome, with lots of backslapping from the mechanics and engineers. It was an emotional moment. It [getting to team up again with Mikkelsen] hasn't really sunk in yet.”