Mikko Heikkilä has finished third in WRC3 category in the seventh round of World Rally Championship, WRC Rally Estonia. Heikkilä’s career-second WRC rally is also his career-second WRC podium.
Mikko Heikkilä, 29, along with his co-driver Topi Luhtinen, 26, have placed third in WRC Rally Estonia. The Estonian round of the WRC season is Heikkilä’s second WRC event as well as a second WRC3 category podium. Heikkilä achieved his first WRC podium last February in WRC Arctic Rally Finland.
-We have achieved what we wanted to achieve, but there’s improvement to be made in our pace. We’ll try to learn and improve. On a positive note, our speed increase on Saturday was good and we avoided damage and other issues with the car, which worked brilliantly the whole weekend.
The event started on Thursday with a short super special stage, in which Heikkilä was seventh fastest. During Friday’s full day, consisting of nine special stages, Heikkilä moved briedly up to fifth and was sixth after the day.
-The pace isn’t quite where we would like it to be, but the podium is within reach and that’s our goal.
Heikkilä started Saturday’s first leg by rising to fifth after the first stage. Third fastest times on special stages 12 and 13, as well as misfortune of fellow competitors moved Heikkilä up to third in class.
-We are up to third now, so we are on our target. The grooves will be deep on the second run, so we’ll need to be careful.
Saturday morning’s special stages were driven again during the afternoon, and heavy grooving became a challenge. The worsened condition of the roads did not cause any issues for Heikkilä, who drove the fourth fastest time for stage 14. Stages 15-17 Heikkilä completed with a second-fastest time. By the night break Heikkilä was still third and career-second WRC3 podium was within reach.
-We drove better times now and my driving improved since the first leg. The first two stages had grooves like we’ve never seen before. The car endured no big hits, and we were safely through.
Sunday started with two third fastest times and a fifth fastest time for SS21 for Heikkilä. Fast stage times meant more difference to the competitors behind.
-We drove with safety on and without too much pushing. We’ll do a few changes to our driving for the last three stages based on the morning’s stages and we’ll continue our precise driving.
Third to last and the penultimate stages Heikkilä was third fastest again. On the rally-ending Power Stage Heikkilä was fifth fastest and his second WRC3 podium in as many WRC events became a reality.
-I tried pushing especially on the second to last stage, but the last stage was in such bad conditions that we just tried to survive to the finish. Our placement is according to my goal, but the speed wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The rally was good otherwise, we learned a lot and gained valuable experience and we’ll improve accordingly. My co-driver Topi as well as people at the service did an amazing job and I wish to thank them for that.
Taking part in a WRC event requires a huge amount of effort. Heikkilä’s second WRC event became a reality thanks to co-operators’ wide support.
-I’m thankful for being able to take part in a WRC event again and it’s great to bring home a good result. A huge thank you to all my cooperation partners and to the people at TGS. We’ll be back behind the wheel at the fifth event of FRC in Lahti in mid August.
Text: Juho Koski / Mikko Heikkilä Racing