Wed 26 Jul 2023

Heikkilä needs new ERC car to “fit like a glove”

Mikko Heikkilä is upgrading to Škoda’s latest-generation Fabia RS Rally2 for round six of the FIA European Rally Championship – and hopes it will “fit like a glove”.

The Finnish champion has switched from his previous Fabia Rally2 Evo to the new-for-2023 Czech challenger. He will use this week’s Rally di Roma Capitale to try it in the ERC for the first time having sampled the car in his homeland, albeit on a gravel test road only.

“A new car is always a bit of a wildcard, but, hopefully, it’ll fit like a glove,” The Racing Factory driver said prior to testing the car on Tarmac earlier this week. “The new car has more torque, and the engine felt really good when we tested it on gravel. I’ve also heard that the new car performs well on asphalt, although the old one wasn't bad either.”

As well as a new Michelin-equipped car, Heikkilä will have to adapt to a new event with the 31-year-old a Rally di Roma Capitale rookie when action begins on Friday.

“As we’ve reviewed the special stages through videos, they seem to be closest in nature to the stages to the Canary Islands,” said Heikkilä. “The character of the roads is quite similar, though the surface is different. The stages might be a bit more slippery and bumpy, but they look really enjoyable and drivable. If we could gradually find our rhythm on asphalt, that's exactly what I'd hope for.”

Rally di Roma Capitale marks Heikkilä’s fifth outing on asphalt and takes place one week prior to Secto Rally Finland, his country’s round of the FIA World Rallly Championship, which he’s also contesting along with co-driver Samu Vaaleri.

“Since there were no reasonable flights back on Sunday evening, we’ll be flying back home on Monday,” he said. “As soon as our wheels touch the ground, we’ll set our course towards Jyväskylä for the recce starting on Tuesday. It’s the first time we’re in a situation with back-to-back rallies, but it’s a positive thing, and I’m all for it.”

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