Comment: Is Mikkelsen’s time about up?
It’s one thing to be dumped for a nine-times World Rally Champion, but when that driver is also 45 years old, it’s a major worry for 29-year old Andreas Mikkelsen.
Sebastien Loeb, the drive who is replacing him, should be on the downward slide. Mikkelsen should be on the up. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The Hyundai i20 doesn’t appear to be the easiest car to drive. It’s fast on some events, but struggles on others, such as when the stages are fast and flowing, like in Finland.
Clearly it’s been developed for Thierry Neuville’s style, and drivers like Mikkelsen, Hayden Paddon, and even Loeb, have struggled to get the best out of it.
Mikkelsen is a former WRC winner, although three victories from 105 WRC starts is hardly the stuff of legends.
His ‘rock solid’ contract of a full championship in 2019 has already been decimated, and for the second time he’s been substituted by his team.
Will it be third time unlucky for the Norwegian, or does he have what’s needed to bounce back in Sardinia and reclaim the seat that he will still believe is rightly his?
All of which makes Hayden Paddon’s season to date one of interest.
Sure, he’s winning at a canter in his Hyundai NZ car on home soil, but he hasn’t put a foot wrong, and is waiting in the wings and watching with a keen interest from afar.
With other top-line drivers such as Craig Breen and Mads Ostberg also currently on the WRC scrapheap, it might be a case of now or never for Andreas Mikkelsen.
Rally Sardinia 2019 is shaping up to be the most important call of his career.