Portrait of Andreas Mikkelsen: The Prince Charming

A portrait of Andreas Mikkelsen
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D his story was long overdue, but it made the world shake. After three third places at the start of the season, Andreas Mikkelsen fell off the road in Argentina. His sports director had encouraged the attack and stood protectively in front of his break pilots: 'He has long known how to get third,' said Jost Capito dryly. When his protégé put the third factory Polo in Finland upright in the forest, the VW Motorsport Director said with a grin: 'He's making me wait.'

There they came again, the doubts. For a decade the rallying community has been debating whether this Norwegian is not completely overrated. It all went too picture-book-like, too good to be true, is the story of this tall blond boy whose father got rich selling a liquor empire in Scandinavia. The junior attended a sports high school and was not even rid of all milk teeth, he was already a member of two national teams - but skiing and motocross were over when his knees went on strike frozen lake in a rally car. At 16, the teenager was already faster than the Norwegian champion Thomas Schie. Henning Solberg, older brother of world champion Petter and himself an established rally great, invited his co-driver Ola Floene to a test. When he encouraged his co to sit down next to this baby boy, he called: 'Do you want to kill me?' Wild and fearless was the youngster who, thanks to dad's millions, got into the sport right at the top. As a 17-year-old, he romped on Irish mogul roads in a Ford Focus WRC and destroyed a brand-new car on a rock during his ninth round of the World Championship in Wales. Opinions were already divided: Does someone deserve such opportunities where others laboriously serve themselves up?

Mikkelsen causes a sensation as a youngster

But this youngster also delivered results and one record after another: youngest winner of a British rally, youngest winner of a Norwegian championship run, youngest driver to have scored points in a world championship run. When Norway was awarded a World Cup run for the first time, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg signed a special permit to allow Mikkelsen to start. Floene often had to drive on the liaison stages, on the exams the youngster finished in the top ten of the world's best at 17. When the 22-year-old Jari-Matti Latvala caused a sensation in Sweden in 2008 as the youngest ever world championship runner, it went underthe only 17-year-old Mikkelsen finished fifth. The recently retired double world champion Marcus Grönholm declared himself his mentor.

But it wasn't all golden or pink. In 2008 the financial crisis hit and the end of the WRC generation with two-liter engines was foreseeable at the end of 2010. Steinar Mikkelsen sold the two Ford Focuses while they were still worth something and told his son that it was time to grow up.

From then on, he should take care of sponsorship money himself. The papa promised to add the same amount to the amount raised. When the Filius noticed that the old man was serious, it was too late for a third World Cup season. The money was just enough for the Norwegian Subaru one-make cup, which Mikkelsen mercilessly mixed up.

Seriousness of life

It was not a fun year. The seriousness of life, so fondly evoked by adults, was broken through with hard force. It is not often that a 20-year-old has to answer for someone's death. Mikkelsen was blown off the road at the Larvik rally. A ten-year-old girl who died at the scene of the accident stood where nobody should have been. The mother answered and implored him not to think of stopping now. As a reminder and as a reminder, little Denise has been going with him ever since - her name is on the back of his helmet.

The title of a Norwegian Group N champion is not the calling card that the sports directors hastily sign Works contracts required. Mikkelsen got by with occasional trips. A second place at the final of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Scotland opened the doors to the Skoda Fabia S2000 from the British Skoda importer. Mikkelsen thanked the trust in 2011 and 2012 with the IRC title.

When VW was practicing for the WRC entry in 2012 and was allowed to contest a full season with Skoda Fabia in the second world championship league due to the lack of a homologated World Rally Car Try out Andreas Mikkelsen alongside other talents. He was sometimes faster than the later world champion Sébastien Ogier - and received a VW factory contract.

Mikkelsen's best friend is Thierry Neuville

In the first season, alongside Ogier and Latvala, the two best Riders of the world, he scored seven points and was tenth in the World Championship, but the critics came back. With the best car in the field and these opportunities in the best team in the industry, shouldn't you at least make it onto the podium? And shouldn't he at least beat his teammates every now and then?

The critics referred to Thierry Neuville, Mikkelsen's best friend from IRC days and shooting star at Citroën, at M-Sport-Ford and finally at Hyundai, where made him number one. You now live next door to door in Monte Carlo. When Neuville celebrated his first World Cup victory in Germany in 2014, a Lulatsch in a white driver's suit jumped excitedlytowards the Hyundai rolling towards the finish. It was Mikkelsen who was incredibly happy for his colleague, who should actually be his rival.

Not always up to date the teammates

That's how fast the wind turns. Neuville has had a tough season and was not nominated in the battle for second place in the World Cup at the final in Wales, Mikkelsen, on the other hand, is now a celebrated man because he finally made it: he was second three times in 2014, but always was a teammate before him in the end. Not this time in Spain.

Actually Sébastien Ogier had already won by just under a minute. Mikkelsen fought for second place with Latvala, which is already a Herculean task, because the Finn won on Corsican asphalt and is a real asphalt ace. The VW team likes to point out that you shouldn't be fooled by Andreas Mikkelsen's sun-boy smile. The Norwegian is considered a hard worker and a real professional. Marcus Grönholm talked him out of the wildness at the steering wheel, but Mikkelsen still saw deficits on asphalt. He registered with the English circuit specialist Rob Wilson.

The youngster reaped the fruits of his labor on the last twelve kilometers in Duesaigües, in which he went 1.4 seconds ahead of the oncoming Latvala im Neck. Mikkelsen had waxed the first day on gravel. It was difficult to switch to the dust paths of Catalonia after the tarred labyrinth of the Corsican island. In 2015, Ogier and Latvala had 22 test days each, Mikkelsen had to be content with half of them.

The revised car that his teammates got at the start of the season was only given at the fifth round in Portugal. And at the end of the season, the third VW Polo was not always at the same level as the two top cars in terms of chassis and differentials. A great excuse that Mikkelsen never said.

First victory in Spain

When Latvala had two flat feet in Spain and things got tight, Mikkelsen was sitting with his engineer Richard Browne . 'What's your plan?' Asked the Irishman. 'The plan is to kick the Finns in the ass,' announced his driver solemnly. Browne passed the announcement on to Latvala's engineer, and before the next test the Finn stood grinning in front of the Norwegian and whispered: 'I know your plan.'

The two Northmen get along well outside of their racing cars . As with Latvala, it's extremely difficult to get into a row with Mikkelsen. But that's why there are no gifts for a long time. Latvala drove a great time at the end, but Mikkelsen was 1.7 seconds faster.

He opened the door at the time control to find out whether he would be second or third. When radio reporter Julian Porter announced that Ogier was in the guardrailcrashed and outside, the Norwegian couldn't believe it. Twice he asked: 'Sure?'

'I didn't really want to win like that,' he said, but then he concluded: 'I deserve it.' Because there was this weekend in Sweden where he fought for victory in a head-to-head race against Ogier and had actually already won, but he didn't know that, because since this season the drivers have no longer got any intermediate times in the cockpit sent. In the end, Mikkelsen was stuck in a snowdrift. Ogier recognized the threat posed by the young Norwegian and danced on the bonnet as if he had just won the title. When the world champion sits dazed on the guard rail in Spain, Mikkelsen's first sentence is: 'I'm sorry for Sébastien.'

That good omens

Manager Erik Veiby and physio trainer Roy Snellingen are already at the airport and turn around again. The whole family is there. Mikkelsen's mother Petra, stepmother Lena, the two nephews and girlfriend Marghrite. She's still pretty thin after chemotherapy. She was diagnosed with leukemia the previous year. She has had chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. In winter Andreas cut her hair, which has always been hip-length, with his own hand, so that it would not be so depressing to see the long splendor slowly fall out.

It was only on Sunday morning in Spain that she had the confidence to take off her baseball cap and show off the short brunette haircut. It was a good omen. Your friend drove the first asphalt test of his life and has now arrived in the illustrious circle of world championship run winners.

Steinar Mikkelsen stands under a parasol with a mild smile. It was not three, but ten years in the end until the plan worked. Somehow he's also there now. Not bad for a spoiled kid, right? Father Mikkelsen lifts his forefinger: 'Pampered when it comes to his possibilities - but Andreas has never behaved like a spoiled child.'

PROFILE

Name Andreas Mikkelsen

Birthplace Oslo

Birthday 22.6.1989

Profession rally professional

From the age of eleven at the NTG sports high school, he becomes a member of the motocross national team and appointed to the alpine ski team. He is third in the Junior World Championships. After a knee injury, Mikkelsen became a rally professional at the age of 16, and has been a VW works driver in the World Cup since 2013.

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