- ŠKODA UK Motorsport IRC Champion Andreas Mikkelsen drives Vicki Butler-Henderson around Leicestershire
- The two pro drivers compete in the navigational rally
- MSA’s Go Motorsport encourages grassroots participation
ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s 2011 IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen has teamed up with Fifth Gear TV’s Vicki Butler-Henderson to put the spotlight on one of the UK’s most affordable and enjoyable forms of motorsport. To be broadcast on Friday 9 December on Channel 5, Vicki and Andreas contested a 12-car navigational rally, the Zebulon Pike Rally, organised by the Loughborough Car Club in Leicestershire.
More than 300 similar events are organised by MSA-registered motor clubs. No special equipment or licences are required beyond a road-legal car and the ability to read a map. Competitors are given a set of clues, which they must crack while averaging 30mph between a series of checkpoints.
One of the world’s most promising young rally stars, Mikkelsen was charged with driving a standard 180bhp Skoda Fabia vRS – the showroom version of the 22-year-old Norwegian’s Fabia S2000 competition car – while Butler-Henderson took on the navigational duties.
“I didn’t really know what to expect and map reading isn’t my specialist subject as I can get lost in a car park!” admitted Vicki. “As total novices, we were given extra time to plot the route and, although we made several errors, we didn’t finish last and we had a real giggle. It was a terrific way to spend an evening. You exercise your brain, enjoy plenty of good banter and participate in a great sport with some healthy competition, all for a £15 entry fee and the cost of a few litres of fuel.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, the ŠKODA UK IRC Champion adds: “It was very different to anything I have done before. It was great fun and clearly a fantastic way to start in motorsport. It’s important for a young driver to gain experience any way he or she can and, more importantly, it’s the perfect place for a budding co-driver to start off. I can now see why Britain has produced so many top world championship co-drivers over the years.”
Mikkelsen was also impressed with his Fabia vRS: “We did our event in a ŠKODA Fabia vRS. The country lanes were quite bumpy and narrow, but the car was really impressive. Now that I know what we’re supposed to do it would be really nice to do a navigational rally again – and see if we can improve on our finishing position!”
Butler-Henderson is one of many high-profile ambassadors supporting Go Motorsport – the Motor Sports Association’s campaign to help more people into motorsport – and is keen to promote the availability of such activities.
“I’m passionate about grass roots motorsport,” she confirmed. “Twelve-car navigational rallies certainly fit that bill – you can do them in your own road car without any bespoke equipment beyond a 2B pencil and torch.”
Colin Hilton, Chief Executive of the MSA adds: “Whether it’s 12-cars, production car trials or autotests, there is a wealth of possibilities available to those looking to enjoy club level motorsport for a very modest outlay.”