Mon 30 Jan 2023

Finnish champion Heikkila plots ERC mission

Mikko Heikkilä will build on his successful national campaign in 2022 with a full-season FIA European Rally Championship attack this year.

The Finn, 31, captured his domestic crown by winning the final two events of the season following a strong showing in his homeland. He also underlined his potential in the ERC with a podium finish on Tet Rally Liepāja last July, his second start in the series.

Heikkilä has joined Portugal-based The Racing Factory as part of a multi-year deal for his 2023 ERC bid, which will begin at the wheel of a previous generation Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, with a move to the current Fabia RS Rally2 a possibility of later in the year. He will use Michelin tyres for his first European programme.

“It feels amazing to be finally announcing our next step forward,” Heikkilä said. “We’ll continue with Samu Vaaleri as my co-driver, we were off to a great start last year and we work great together.”

He continued: “We’ll drive as fast as we can as we normally do and, of course, competing for podiums and wins on gravel is the main goal. On Tarmac we need more kilometres and experience in order to master it, but ERC luckily has a good amount of Tarmac rallies. We’ll be starting off a bit easier and then increase our pace once we’ve found the rhythm.

“A big thank you even before the start of the season for everyone who made this possible, both my own cooperation partners as well as The Racing Factory. We’re here to win and gain ground in the European championship.”

Of his move to The Racing Factory, Heikkilä added: “I’ve visited their facilities, and everything has a professional look and touch to it.”

Welcoming Heikkilä to his team, Aloísio Monteiro, The Racing Factory CEO, said he wants the new alliance to continue into the long term with an FIA World Rally Championship bid the ultimate target.

“It is with great satisfaction that we welcome Mikko and Samu to our team and we will make sure that all the conditions needed are fulfilled for the maximum success,” Monteiro said. “The goal is the start working together and turn this partnership into victories. Mikko was our first choice; we had been watching his latest results and progress so the first contact with him was natural. We are very happy with this new project, and we will work hard to get the best results with him. Our target is to work hard on the ERC for 2023 and 2024, but our main goal is to help Mikko grow as a driver with enormous potential and go for the WRC in 2025.”

The eight-event ERC season fires up on Rally Serras de Fafe from 10 - 12 March.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM