Andreas Mikkelsen’s ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 will feature a crisper factory-designed colour scheme in 2012, as he attempts to become the first driver to win back-to-back Intercontinental Rally Challenge driver titles.
Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreaswill join Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler and Juho Hänninen/Mikko Markkula in the three factory-prepared Fabia S2000s that will spearhead ŠKODA’s attempt to win the IRC Manufacturers’ title for a third consecutive season. It’s an incredibly strong driver line-up, as Mikkelsen, Kopecký and Hänninen finished 1-2-3 in the final 2011 driver standings.
Andreas’ car will retain its unmistakable ŠKODA UK Motorsport identity with the familiar Union Flag appearing on the roof and bonnet once again. In addition, a new black side detail incorporates elements of the flag to make the car even more recognisable for spectators. Other changes for the 2012 car include the introduction of a thin black keyline that frames the lower bodywork’s green panels. At the rear, a Union Flag has been incorporated into the rear tailgate with the bottom edge now featuring a matt black stripe.
The ŠKODA UK Motorsport team will continue to be run on events separately from ŠKODA Motorsport, with Andy Rogers moving to position of Team Manager and Pierfranceso Zanchi and Nicolas Roux continuing asTeam Principal and Chief Engineer respectively.
There are a number of changes to the 2012 IRC calendar that Andreas is looking forward to next season, the biggest of which being the expansion of the series from 11 to 13 rallies and four all-new events.
The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally has become ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s home round of the IRC, which is perfectly located for its buoyant Northern Irish retailer network. The event, which ran for the first time in 1931, is one of oldest rallies in the world and attracts huge support. It’s also a good event for Andreas, who in 2007 contested several rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and has experience of the unique nature of the bumpy and narrow asphalt roads.
Rally San Marino has also been added to the IRC itinerary – an event Andreas won last year on his way to becoming Italian Gravel Rally Champion.
Next year’s IRC contains nine asphalt, three gravel and a mixed surface event. The series begins with the Rally Azores in February and contains more events in the emerging Eastern European marketplace, visits unchartered territories as well as several classics such as Rallye Sanremo and Tour de Corse, before finishing in Cyprus in November.
Andreas: “Next season there are a lot of rallies that I know, plus four new events. The new round in Ireland will suit me very well, because I’ve done some rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and also the WRC event over there before. I’ve not done these actual Circuit of Ireland stages, but I know the nature of the roads and know what to look for in terms of set-up of the car, so I think Ireland will be a really strong event for us.
“San Marino is in, and I won that rally last year in the Italian Gravel Championship, so that will be another strong event for us. The other two new rounds in Romania and Bulgaria I don’t know and I’m not sure what to expect, but we’ve performed well in the past on rallies we’ve never done before and we’re confident there are a lot of strong rallies on next year’s calendar for us.”
2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge calendar
23-25 February….Sata Rallye Azores (gravel)
15-17 March….Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés (asphalt)
6-7 April….Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally (asphalt)
11-12 May….Tour de Corse (asphalt)
2-3 June….Canon Mecsek Rallye (Hungary, asphalt)
21-23 June….GEKO Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt)
6-7 July….Rally San Marino (gravel)
20-22 July….Sibiu Rally Romania (gravel)
31 August-2 September….Barum Czech Rally Zlín (asphalt)
15-16 September….Prime Yalta Rally (Ukraine, asphalt)
29-30 September….Rally Sliven (Bulgaria, asphalt)
12-13 October….Rallye Sanremo (Italy, asphalt)
2-3 November….Cyprus Rally (gravel/asphalt)