ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen has successfully completed his second and final pre-season warm-up event by battling through -30°C temperatures and driving with frozen toes to finish 5th on Rally Finnskog.

Three weeks after winning the Mountain Rally, Andreas and co-driver Ola Fløene (who celebrated his 43th birthday on 1 February) were back in Norway to compete on another snow rally in their Intercontinental Rally Challenge title-winning ŠKODA Fabia S2000, which is now owned and run by the Evenrally team.

The extreme winter conditions were ideal practice for this weekend’s Rally Sweden, with a great deal of snow and ice covering the eight forestry stages near the host village of Svullrya, situated 85 miles (137kms) north-east of Oslo.

A spin on SS3 and a puncture on SS7 denied Andreas hopes of S2000 victory, but he was pleased to have achieved what he’d set out to do on Rally Finnskog – find a good rhythm and pace on narrow studded snow tyres. He ended the event in typical style, setting a time on the final stage that was just 6.2 seconds behind rally winner Mikko Hirvonen and 6.5 seconds behind stage winner Mads Østberg, who were both driving more powerful World Rally Cars.

Andreas: “Rally Finnskog was a very good test before Rally Sweden. The biggest difference between this rally and what I’m used to in the IRC were the snow tyres, so it was a very good test to get used to the narrower studded ones. I’m satisfied with the pace and overall it has been a great day. On the last stage I was just over six seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Østberg who were both running World Rally Cars, so I was really pleased about that.

“It has been terribly cold – the temperature dropped to minus thirty degrees and I have frozen toes. The stages were really nice and now I feel that I am where I should be before the WRC round in Sweden.”

The ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver will be on loan to Volkswagen Motorsport for the forthcoming Rally Sweden, which starts in Karlstad on Thursday night (9 February).

Andreas’ main focus for 2012 is the defense of his IRC Drivers’ title with ŠKODA UK Motorsport, which begins on the Sata Rallye Azores (23-25 February).

Rally Finnskog results (top 10) 

  1.  Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Citroën DS3 WRC)….1hr 02mins 30.7secs
  2.  Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor (Mitsubishi EVO)….+30.5secs
  3.  Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (Ford Fiesta WRC)….+49.8secs
  4.  P-G Andersson/Emil Axelsson (Proton)….+2mins 56.6secs
  5.  Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+3mins 01.7secs
  6.  Eyvind Brynildsen/Cato Menkerud (Ford Fiesta WRC)….+3mins 02.5secs
  7.  Anders Waterhouse/Trond Svendsen (Subaru Impreza)….+5mins 08.1secs
  8.  Marius Aasen/Veronica Engan (Ford Fiesta S2000)….+5mins 13.1secs
  9.  Anders Kjær/Morten Erik Abrahamsen (Renault Twingo R2)….+10mins 42.6secs
  10.  Ole Morten Korsmo/Tore Hellerud (Volvo 240)….+11mins 29.4secs