Mon 29 May 2023

Heikkilä plots return to the top in ERC but remains wary of Sesks

Mikko Heikkilä believes he can return to the top of the timesheets in the FIA European Rally Championship – but reckons Mārtiṇš Sesks will be tough to beat on home soil when Latvia hosts round four of the season next month.

Finn Heikkilä was firmly in the lead fight on the Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto season opener in March only to struggle to replicate that form on ORLEN 79th Rally Poland until set-up tweaks for the second leg gave him the confidence he craved.

He now hopes to transfer those learnings and his Sunday speed into Tet Rally Liepāja from 16 - 18 June, when he’s certain that home hero and Poland winner Sesks will be the driver to beat.

“The feeling was much better and I was more confident with the car today,” said the reigning Finnish champion. “It was easier to drive fast but I’m really disappointed I made the wrong choice with the set-ups [on day one]. We were not here to fight for the fifth place so I hope the next time is better in Latvia.

“But even with the best set-up in the world it will be really difficult to beat Sesks, he’s really fast and also Hayden Paddon, but I’m happy because I was worried I was not able to drive anymore and I didn’t know what’s wrong so it was nice to see it was from the car for once and hopefully it will be better in the future.”

Driving a Michelin-equipped Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo for The Racing Factory, Heikkilä finished his Poland debut with a flourish, claiming two stage wins and second place on the Power Stage, just 0.3sec behind Mads Østberg.

He set one of his two fastest stage times on the Barczewo test, known locally as ‘Little Finland’ due to its wide and fast opening section, which has similarities to Finnish stages.

“Okay, maybe that’s why we were fast there but it was a good stage for me to be honest,” Heikkilä said of his performance through the 10.73km run. “They were nice stages and with this car [on leg two] it was fun to drive even though the results were not there.”

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