Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger-Amland showed good pace right from the start at Rally Mexico. They started with a second fastest time already on Shakedown, and continued with fastest stages times on Friday morning, and took the overall lead already on the first stage of the day. Unfortunately they were forced to retire after a puncture led to suspension damage in the afternoon.
“We had a positive morning, but the afternoon could not have been a starker turnaround in fortunes. We wanted to get a good start, and we did just that. We knew that the El Chocolate stage would play an important role; the longest stage of the day and one that everyone knows well. Still, it changes a bit each year but we put a lot of effort into getting it right – and we were rewarded with a stage win in the morning loop. We were in the rally lead, and fighting hard, but in the repeat of El Chocolate I hit a stone. We got a puncture so we changed the tyre but we could only continue for 10km before the suspension broke due to the impact with the rock, and in the end we were forced to stop.”
They were able to restart again on Saturday morning, but as the opening car there was a lot of cleaning to do. In the Guanajuatito stage, the Norwegian pairing literally had to be the road-opener, as they arrived at a closed gate and had to stop to open it.
“If there’s a time and place when you don’t want to be first on the road it is Saturday in Mexico – there has definitely been lots of cleaning today. Even considering that handicap, there are positives to take away. Our times have not been too bad and I have been quite happy with our performance overall. The result is gone but we’ve tried to enjoy the driving and to keep our motivation high. We’ve been able to explore some different things on the car for use in the future. The most unusual moment of the day came at the start of the afternoon loop when we arrived at a closed gate mid-stage. Thankfully we had ‘Anders the Gate Opener’ on hand to open the road in the most literal sense. It was one of those bizarre situations that perfectly illustrates the frustration of our Rally México.”
Leading the rally and taking 3 stages wins, that sums up a challenging but positive weekend in Mexico.
“It’s easy to dwell on the missed opportunities this weekend, but it is important that we look at the many positives. The i20 Coupe WRC performed much more to my liking on these gravel stages, and that was reflected in our competitive stage times on Friday. Obviously, we weren’t able to fight for the sort of result we were capable of scoring but that’s rallying sometimes. The final day was clean and we had a decent run through the Power Stage. It was my first attempt at Las Minas as I missed out on Friday afternoon. It wasn’t perfect but another useful lesson.”