Sat 01 Jan 2022

ERC champion Mikkelsen in shock Dakar debut

Andreas Mikkelsen is already in action three months before the start of the 2022 FIA European Rally Championship.

The 2021 ERC and WRC2 champion is embarking on his first Dakar when he’ll be put to the test during more than 4000 kilometres of intense competition in the deserts of Saudi Arabia between January 2-14.

It follows Mikkelsen’s late call-up to replace Mitch Guthrie Jr in the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team on the opening round of the inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.

But while cross-country rallying and the custom-built OT3 by Overdrive are new to the 32-year-old from Norway, co-driver Ola Fløene has been a regular guiding light over the years.

“It’s a big opportunity for me to come here,” said Mikkelsen, a double winner in last season’s ERC. “I’ve always talked with Ola about doing the Dakar one day. I pictured it would be when I had ended my rally career, but now the opportunity has come earlier. I thank everyone who has made this opportunity come my way.

“I’m surprised to be here as this was not the original plan, but this is the situation in the world at the moment. I feel really sorry for Mitch. I’ve spoken to Ola and heard how much they had prepared for this rally. I will try and do my best for these next two weeks. I’m used to races that last just one weekend so it’s going to be really different for me.”

Meanwhile, Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras in northern Portugal is due to host the opening round of the 2022 ERC season from March 11-13.

Photo: Flavien Duhamel / Red Bull Content Pool

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