Mikkelsen 'very close' to VW deal


Double Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen believes he has now done enough to earn the third works Volkswagen seat in next year's World Rally Championship.

Volkswagen is set to run a third Polo WRC alongside team leaders Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier for at least a partial programme during its debut WRC campaign.

Alongside his IRC title defence, Mikkelsen has been assessed by VW this year as part of its preparatory WRC programme with S2000 Skoda Fabias. He has alternated with Kevin Abbring in VW's #23 Fabia and has impressed with his speed relative to established WRC title contender Ogier.

Asked after finishing second in the Cyprus IRC finale last weekend if he now knew what he would be doing in 2013, Mikkelsen replied: "The plan is to do the world championship with Volkswagen and to drive the Polo World Rally Car. The deal is not signed but it's very, very close."

Mikkelsen was a WRC regular in 2007 and '08 while still a teenager, showing great speed in a privateer Ford but also having several incidents.

He stepped back to national rallying thereafter, then made a difficult international comeback with Hankook's IRC programme in 2010, before being picked up by Skoda UK.

After a turbulent, crash-filled, start to his 2011 campaign, Mikkelsen began to deliver victories and ultimately swept to the final two IRC titles. He now feels much better qualified for a WRC manufacturer chance.

"The biggest thing I've learned was how to work with a big manufacturer," he said.

"Before I was always a privateer, thinking about myself and the result I wanted. With Skoda UK I have the whole brand behind me and I have to look at the bigger picture."

He added: "It started very badly in Monte Carlo last year when we finished after a few corners and we've had many ups and downs since then. It was a big move for Skoda UK to give me this chance and there were a lot of critics because they were hiring a Norwegian and not helping one of their own.

"It was a bad start but we never gave up and they never stopped believing in my talents and what I was capable for doing with Ola [Floene, co-driver]."

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