Mikko Heikkilä has finished the WRC Rally de Espana – “We learned tremendously”

Photo: Honza Fronek

Miko Heikkilä has finished in tenth place in WRC3 at the penultimate round of World Rally Championship, the WRC RallyRACC Rally de Espana held in Spain. The unfortunate weekend brought the Finnish driver a lot of experience about driving on tarmac. Heikkilä is happy with his special stage times and for the 2021 season overall.

Mikko Heikkilä, 29, with his co-driver Topi Luhtinen, 26, have finished the WRC RallyRACC Rally de Espana in SIJOITUS place. Heikkilä’s tarmac debut didn’t continue his streak of three WRC3 podiums. Heikkilä, who suffered a puncture on Friday and had to retire on Saturday drove Sunday’s four stages due to super rally rule.

Heikkilä began the RACC Rally de Espana on Friday with an eight fastest time for special stage one. On the second stage of the day Heikkilä was sixth fastest. Heikkilä ended the morning’s leg with a fourth fastest time on SS3 and with a sixth place in WRC3.

-It felt decent. The gap to class and R5 leaders is a bit smaller than I expected beforehand. We don’t have any huge expectations with our results, the most important part is to improve on tarmac.

The afternoon leg contained the morning’s three stages driven for the second time. On special stage four Heikkilä was seventh fastest, but the puncture on the next stage dropped Heikkilä down to tenth in category. Heikkilä was seventh in the finishing stage of the day and tenth in WRC3 after Friday.

-The puncture on the SS5 was not a good end for the otherwise decent day. The other stages of the leg were clean, and we had a decent rhythm.

Saturday’s second competitive day began for Heikkilä with a seventh fastest time for SS7. On the second stage of the morning, SS8, Heikkilä was fifth fastest. On special stage nine however, Heikkilä’s rally came to a premature end.

-I understood a pace note to be faster than it was in reality, Topi said it exactly right. The braking was late due to this, and we hit a tree. We are both fine with Topi. Apologies to all of my cooperation partners, supporters and to the team.

TGS mechanics managed to repair the car during the night, and Heikkilä continued to finish the event on Sunday due to super rally rule. Heikkilä’s goal for Sunday’s four stages was to gain kilometres on tarmac.

-It was incredibly great to be able to drive today and gain some kilometres here. A great big thank you for the TGS team for it, the boys did fantastic job.

Heikkilä began the last day of the even in the darkness of early dawn at stage 14 with a sixth fastest stage time. On the second stage of the morning leg Heikkilä was fifth.

-We drove safely through. I took the second stage a bit more carefully as there was some gravel on the road and we couldn’t attach extra lights due to the crash yesterday. I still tried my hardest, especially on stage 15.

The morning’s two stages were driven again during the day. On the penultimate stage Heikkilä was third fastest, driving his best stage result of the rally. On the rally-ending Power Stage Heikkilä however suffered a second puncture, losing him three minutes whilst changing the tire. Heikkilä’s placement on the Power Stage as well as in overall standings was tenth.

-The second to last stage was good and without mistakes. The drivers before me had lifted a bit of gravel on the road, and I started to get a hang of how to drive into a gravel grooving and how to cut here. The last stage began with a good rhythm, but a rock puncture our rear tire and we had to change it on the stage.

Heikkilä’s WRC RallyRACC Rally de Espana didn’t go as planned for the Finn, but Heikkilä has positive things to bring home from his debut on tarmac.

-Results wise there isn’t anything much really, but we learned tremendously about driving on tarmac. We spoke with Topi before the last stage about how many things we would do differently with my driving and setting up the car if we could start the rally again. The stage times were good on the stages we didn’t do any mistakes at, and it gives me hope about gaining more performance in case we get to drive on tarmac again. Overall I’m not happy due to the mistakes.

Heikkilä’s 2021 has included results-wise the FRC Class 1 second place as well as two third-place finishes and a second place finish in WRC3. The realisation of Rally de Espana is a big step for the Finn, an it, along with the whole season, could not have materialised without the wide support of cooperation partners and supporters back home.

-A huge thank you for each and every one who has been a part of this journey to Spain right at the end of our season. It was great to be able to drive on tarmac. A huge thank you for the whole season as well to my cooperation partners, the TGS team as well as all of those who have supported and helped me through the whole year. We had some good and some not so good moments and some of our goals were achieved and some not. Overall I’m satisfied, and once again big thank you to everybody. For now we’ll wait for Christmas time and plan on our next year.

Results in WRC3:

1.Emil Lindholm2:44:31,9 Skoda Fabia Rally2 EvoFIN
2.Kajetan Kajetanowicz2:45:00,4+28,5Skoda Fabia Rally2 EvoPOL
3.Josh McErlean2:47:29,0+2:57,1Hyundai i20 R5IRL
4.Chris Ingram2:47:29,0+3:14,1Skoda Fabia Rally2 EvoGBR
5.Armin Kremer2:52:22,8+7:50,9Citroen C3 Rally2GER
10.Mikko Heikkilä3:41:54,6+57:22,7Skoda Fabia Rally2 EvoFIN

Words: Juho Koski / Mikko Heikkilä Racing

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