It’s safe to say Andreas Mikkelsen has turned his season around in recent months. Go back to July and it looked like his European Rally Championship and WRC 2 programmes were coming unstuck.
The Norwegian had planned to win, win, win in 2021 in a bid to return to a top tier World Rally Championship manufacturer next year. Instead, accidents on the Croatia Rally and Rally Italy, combined with a winless start to his ERC campaign left him overshadowed by Esapekka Lappi, Mads Ostberg, and Alexey Lukyanuk.
Ola Floene’s exit from the co-driver’s seat heaped more uncertainty on the second half of Mikkelsen’s season.
Mikkelsen, however, has bounced back in extraordinary fashion. The 32-year-old is on a three-rally winning streak. A WRC 2 Acropolis Rally win cemented his grip on the Rally2 title while back-to-back wins in Azores and Fafe has given him a 71-point ERC lead.
But what has caused Mikkelsen’s return to form? In an honest review on his latest “My Life” vlog, the Skoda driver revealed all.
“I have changed the way I have been working,” admitted Mikkelsen. “I’ve actually started working less.
“I was working so much during the rally weekends, before the weekends, sitting up to 3 a.m. in the morning trying to learn the stages by heart so there would be no surprises.
“I was basically so tired when I was driving because I was lacking sleep. I didn’t really have any extra energy left for the driving because I worked my ass off in the preparations, during the recce days and the rally as well.
“I have now started working less so that means taking one step back but maybe two, three, or four forward.”
As well as rethinking his rally routine, Mikkelsen also described how reducing his own expectations and pressures has helped his mindset recently.
“I’m also thinking, if I don’t make it then so what, I’m still going to have a nice life. I tried to take the pressure off a little bit and just try to enjoy the driving.
“In recent months the pressure has been there to succeed. I had some crashes in Sardinia and Croatia and things were working a bit against us.
“Now, I’m just enjoying the driving, relaxing, and if something happens, it happens. It’s not going to destroy your life. Life is not over if your rally life does not work out.
“I tried to have a bit more of that kind of attitude and since then my results have been really good.”
Mikkelsen is skipping Rally Spain but will go to Rally Hungary a week later to try to seal the European Rally Championship. In WRC 2, Ostberg remains his main challenger, eight points behind, with Mikkelsen likely needing a result on Rally Monza to take the title from his compatriot.
Photos courtesy of European Rally Championship