Mon 20 May 2024

Heikkilä revs up for ERC return with stage-winning Italian job

Mikko Heikkilä was back in action and back at the top of the times when he made his first start since his agonising exit from the lead of V-Híd Rally Hungary last month.

The FIA European Rally Championship podium finisher placed fifth on last weekend’s Rally Adriatico, a round of the Campionato Italiano Rally Terra, as he starts his build-up to the ERC-counting BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia from 13 - 15 June.  

Co-driven by Kristian Temonen in a Step Five Motorsport-run Toyota GR Yaris Rally2, the 2022 Finnish champion was quickest on stage four of Rally Adriatico and held fifth spot from stage two onwards, his efforts to claim an ever better result hampered by an issue on SS5.  

Afterwards the Michelin-equipped driver, 32, said: “On the morning loop, the loose gravel made it feel really difficult to drive. For the second pass the roads were a lot cleaner, and we won stage four, but on the next stage we locked up during braking into a virtual chicane. It shut off our engine, and we couldn’t get it to restart and lost a lot of time there. We were already behind, and after losing time on SS5 we did not want to push too much.”

He continued: “We have some unanswered questions regarding today, as at times the feeling was good, but the times on the other hand were not. The level of competition has seemingly progressed during the spring. I’m sure we’ll figure things out in time for ERC Sweden.  

“Big thanks once again to the team, all my supporters and partners for making it possible for us to come here and do the things I love. Now we switch focus to the next round of the European championship in Sweden.”  

Heikkilä, a recognised gravel specialist, elected not to contest the recent Rally Islas Canarias, the first of five asphalt rounds on this year’s ERC calendar, to “save the budget for the events where I can really fight for the top positions”.

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