Tue 31 Oct 2023

Spanish win fires up Heikkilä for renewed ERC bid

Mikko Heikkilä served notice of his intent for FIA European Rally Championship success in 2024 with victory on Rallye Ciudad de Granada, Spain, last weekend.

The 31-year-old Finn, who was one stage away from winning the Fafe ERC season opener in March, was taking part on the Spanish Gravel Cup counter as a guest of the rally organiser.  

Driving a Škoda R5 run by C.D. Plemar Sport, Heikkilä claimed a commanding winning margin of 42.2sec for his maiden international victory, which he plans to use as the impetus for a renewed ERC campaign next year.  

“It was a great day for us, and we enjoyed the rally without major issues,” said Heikkilä, whose opposition included Xevi Pons, Ole Christian Veiby and Joan Vinyes. “Thanks to the event organisers for the invitation and a well organised rally. We had one puncture, which cost us some time, and we were given a jump start on the second stage. But the roads have been great, and it’s been a lot of fun to drive.”

Heikkilä, who was partnered by long-term co-driver Samu Vaaleri, continued: “I don’t know what tricks the team has pulled off over the year, but the car's driving feel has improved significantly. Of course, this year, we're using Michelin tyres, which naturally have a positive effect. Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible. Rallye Ciudad de Granada was an extra event for our season, which we did not plan at all, but it gave us some good practice before 2024.”  

Looking ahead to next season, Heikkilä added: “We are working hard to be on the starting line next year. Some questions are still unanswered, but the goal is the same as last year. The ERC as a series is good for us, the competition is tough, and exposure is growing yearly. We are hoping to be able to drive a few WRC events as well, Finland at least. Last year’s ERC events in Poland and Latvia are now part of the WRC calendar, and it would be nice to drive either of the two.”  

Heikkilä claimed an ERC podium finish at his second attempt in 2022 and clocked four fastest stage times in 2023.  

Photos: Bruno Penas

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