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Andreas Mikkelsen takes WRC2 title at Central European Rally

The premiere of the Central European Rally was crowned by two world champions. Kalle Rovanperä was not the only new WRC1 champion to close the bag early. In WRC2, the Skoda team of Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen fought back against all odds to take the WRC2 crown. Norwegian veteran Mikkelsen had travelled to Passau with a strong starting position: he led by four points ahead of Frenchman Yohan Rossel in the Citroën and one point ahead of his TokSport-Škoda team-mate Gus Greensmith. Rossel had already retired on SS3, but on the very next special stage Mikkelsen had a severe ride-out and only thanks to a horde of Czech fans pulling the Škoda out of the trees was he able to continue. After that, it was a waiting game as Mikkelsen had to fight his way to the end of the day with a broken rear suspension and followed the rest of the rally as a spectator from a distant position. He waited for the final Power Stage where a full five bonus points and bad luck for Greensmith could seal the championship. Greensmith did everything that was expected of him. In this rally, he had struggled with the handling of his Skoda from the start, but held on to fourth place until the start of the final stage - enough to keep the title fight alive until the final round in Japan, when he completed the Power Stage as class leader. But here, of all places, the Englishman fluffed and spun while Mikkelson won. For Greensmith, the Central European Rally will thus remain a bad memory for good, while Mikkelsen will probably look back on this extraordinary title win for a long time to come.

The fastest WRC2 car of the weekend was the Ford Fiesta MkII Rally2 of Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux, but the newly crowned British Rally Championship winner was not registered for WRC2 points. Hyundai's Emil Lindholm and his co-driver Reeta Hämälainen held the CLASS lead until the final morning, but a technical failure on the way to the first stage of the final day knocked them out of the race and propelled Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin's Škoda into the lead, resulting in an emotional debut victory in the class. Local hero Erik Cais caused great jubilation among the Czech fans with his second place. Popular Pole Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the podium, while Škoda claimed nine of the top 10 places.

The WRC2 Challenge saw a duel between two local Skoda drivers, with Germany's Armin Kremer eventually prevailing over Austria's Johannes Keferböck. The WRC3 class was won by Filip Kohn from the Czech Republic, who gave Carsten Mohe (GER, Renault), who had entered as a WRC3 guest entrant, no chance in second place. The RC4 class was won by Timo Schulz (GER, Opel).

#20 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Torstein Eriksen (NOR), Skoda Fabia RS

"I was relieved when we were behind the finish line. I pushed like crazy in the power stage. I knew it was our only chance for maximum points. We were on the limit in every corner. Things were going well for us at the beginning of the event, but then we had the run-off. From then on we were just waiting for the power stage. I never expected that we would still win the title. But then Gus also had problems and I knew I had to win the Powerstage. It went perfectly for us. Now we can enjoy the end of the season in Japan."

#23 Sami Pajari (FIN) / Enni Mälkönen (FIN), Skoda Fabia RS

"That was a tricky rally. I was able to learn a lot. Our result is not that bad - I am happy with it. The high level of difficulty was a positive challenge. This way I can come here stronger next year. It was also my last rally for this year. The organisation was very good. Super that there were so many fans here, who created a great atmosphere."

#24 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) / Alexandre Coria (FRA), Ford Fiesta Mk II

"It was an incredible rally. I enjoyed every metre. It was definitely not an easy rally.T oday the goal was to get on the podium. When I saw Ciamin's time, I knew I would try to lower the risk. I have to thank Dan, my team and my partners, but also my family and all the spectators - the home track was the best ever. Thank you, hopefully you enjoyed it as much as we did in the car."

#25 Nikolay Gryazin (*) / Konstantin Aleksandrov (*), Skoda Fabia RS

"Apart from the puncture on the first stage and my mistake on the last stage yesterday, it was a great rally. We put in a good performance and the stages were fun. Unfortunately, the liaison stages are very long."

#26 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL) / Maciej Szczepaniak (POL), Skoda Fabia RS

"Sensational atmosphere, sensational routes. The rally was great, but much more difficult than I expected. I will do everything to be here again next year."

#28 Miko Marczyk (POL) / Daniel Dymurski (POL), Skoda Fabia RS

"I enjoyed it very much. It was the first time that I sat in a rally car for five days. It was also new that we drove in three countries. Thursday and Friday went particularly well for us and also Saturday morning. The afternoon did not go according to plan. We secured fifth place in WRC2 and fourth in WRC Challenger. That's good. But I was not always happy with my driving performance."

#31 Erik Cais (CZE) / Daniel Trunkát (CZE), Skoda Fabia RS

“It was definitely not an easy rally. Today the target was to finish on the podium. When I saw the time of Ciamin I know that I will try to lower the risk. I have to say thanks to Dan and my team and partners and also family and all the spectators - home ground was the best ever. Thank you, hopefully you enjoyed it as we did in the car.”

#34 Fabrizio Zaldivar (PRY) / Marcelo der Ohannesian (ITA), Hyundai i20 N

"This was a difficult rally. It was the first time we were here and the first time we experienced the tarmac with the muddy conditions. I am happy that we are at the finish and have completed all the kilometres."

#36 Nicolas Ciamin (FRA) / Yannick Roche (FRA), Skoda Fabia RS

"Before the rally, my goal was to get on the podium. I knew it would be tough. But we did it.I was in this position a few times - I mean in a good position for a good result in WRC2.But then we had an accident or technical problems. But this time it worked out. I also have to congratulate Adrien, because he was the fastest this weekend, and it's also a shame for Emil, because he didn't deserve it."

#39 Simon Wagner (AUT) / Gerald Winter (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS

"That was a top day today. You can see what is possible without taking risks. Hopefully I'll have more luck next time. If I can give 100 per cent, then even a podium is possible. With 7th place in WRC2 we were able to reach our goal. Our Austrian rally fans are absolutely fantastic. Thanks to everyone for cheering us on!"

#44 Štěpán Vojtěch (CZE) / Michal Ernst (CZE), Skoda Fabia

"It was a big challenge. We had all conditions: completely wet, damp, dry and very muddy. We are happy to be at the finish. We actually enjoyed everything because the tracks were so different."

#45 Albert von Thurn und Taxis (GER) / Jara Hain (GER), Skoda Fabia RS

"It was a really difficult rally for us. It was also rather mixed due to the broken rim on Friday. It cost us a lot of penalty time. This meant that the rally was actually over. We then thought about whether we should continue or not. Of course we continued. We regretted it on Saturday morning, because it was very difficult. But we pulled ourselves together and the times improved. We still had a puncture due to a stone. But I'm happy that we continued."

#46 Martin Roßgatterer (AUT) / Jürgen Heigl (AUT), Skoda Fabia Evo

"Today the times fit well, I also know these road conditions better. I wasn't completely satisfied with my performance, but on the other hand we did more kilometres this race weekend than the whole rest of the season. That was seven days of work, but the training is paying off, I still feel top fit on the last day. A lot of impressions have hit me. I have been very impressed by the rain and mud."

#48 Armin Kremer (GER) / Ella Kremer (GER), Skoda Fabia RS

"It went very well for us. We were able to win the Masters Cup. I am very satisfied with that. Thanks to my daughter, who was my co-driver, and of course to the team. We had a lot of fun despite the difficult conditions."

#49 Johannes Keferböck (AUT) / Ilka Mimor (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS

"The rally is basically sensational. The tracks in all three countries were top. Yesterday I lost four minutes because we got stuck in a ditch. In the end, we took second place in the Masters."

#55 Filip Kohn (CZE) / Tom Woodburn (GBR), Ford Fiesta Rally3

"I had ups and downs. I have learned a lot. I'm already looking forward to next year."

#56 Fabio Schwarz (GER) / Bernhard Ettel (AUT), Ford Fiesta Rally3

"Yesterday, unfortunately, we had bad luck with the technology when the fan belt broke. Our performance was great - we set four out of four best times today."

#61 Timo Schulz (GER) / Michael Wenzel (GER), Opel Corsa Rally4

"It's a great feeling to have won here at the WRC round. This was our first WRC round and then to win without much experience is great. The rally itself was very cool with the three different track characteristics. The conditions were very difficult. We all had to struggle with that here."


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