Defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen has described this week's Circuit of Ireland Rally as the most difficult of the season after seeing the stages on the recce.
The Skoda UK Motorsport driver is looking to deliver a second consecutive home win for his team after winning in Scotland in 2011, but he admits the wet conditions are not making it easy for the drivers.
"If it is wet, the pavement changes all of the time," said Mikkelsen. "You can read some of the road and where the grip is changing, but when it's blind over the crest you can't see what's over the top there and what the road is like. Having seen the stages, and with the weather as it is, I would say this is going to be the most difficult rally of the year."
As the start of the Britain's round of the IRC nears, rain is falling on the Titanic superspecial stage – and that weather is expected to continue into the Armagh area on Saturday morning.
"If the rain does carry on," said Mikkelsen, "then it's not going to be the fastest man who wins this rally. The smartest man will win this rally in the rain, the man who gets the tire choice right every time and drives smart will be in with a good chance.
"But, if the weather is dry, then it's all about driving flat out. I want to win this rally. Obviously, I want to win it for Skoda UK and because it's an asphalt event and I haven't won one yet, but I have been close."
Mikkelsen was leading the previous IRC round, the asphalt Canaries Rally, until an engine sensor failed on the penultimate stage. His second place on the Spanish island allied to his round one win in the Azores has left him with an 18-point advantage going into round three.