Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen has set his sights on a points finish on this week's Rally Poland, his first World Rally Championship outing in a World Rally Car since last year's Tour of Corsica.
Mikkelsen, who turned 20 yesterday, tested the Skoda Fabia WRC he will use on this week's Rally Poland for the first time yesterday, completing 40 miles of running near the event's base in Mikolajki.
"The car felt good," he said. "OK, we have to remember it's a little bit old now, but it's not so bad, I'll just have to make up the speed in the corners. It's a while since I drove a World Rally Car for the last time, but I felt at home in the Skoda quite quickly. I reckon we'll be back up to full speed in one or two stages on Friday."
Despite only having started at WRC level once this season – in Norway, where he went off the road while fighting for the lead in Group N – Mikkelsen is confident in his ability.
"We want to take points in Poland, that's the aim," he said. "I feel like I'm a better driver since I have been in the Cup car, it's made me a better driver and I want to show people what I can do now."
After becoming the youngest driver ever to score WRC points at the age of 18, when he finished fifth in Sweden, 2008, Mikkelsen, who has been mentored by Marcus Gronholm, had been tipped for a fast-track into a Subaru manufacturer seat for this season. Unfortunately, the Subaru World Rally Team pulled out of the sport, and Mikkelsen's father withdrew his funding for a Ford-based program.
"I've been on my own this season," said Mikkelsen. "My father had paid for everything before, but when he told me he wasn't going to be able to do that anymore, I had to go out and find some money. I have a backer in Norway who is helping this season, but it's tough with the economy like it is.
"After going out and having to work for everything this year, I do feel like a better person and a better driver – I have learned a great deal and this week I?m looking forward to getting back into a World Rally Car."
Mikkelsen's Fabia deal is a one-off for Poland, but he is already looking to find the budget to run a WRC on more world rounds, together with some potential IRC outings later in the year.