Mikkelsen believes he's overcome "nightmare" start to 2018
Andreas Mikkelsen admits his first World Rally Championship season as a full-time Hyundai driver has been "a bit of a nightmare" - but says he finally has a car that is to his liking.
Mikkelsen has struggled to find confidence and grip from his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC so far this year - but he believes last month’s Rally of Portugal marked a turning point.
In the pre-event test for round six, the Norwegian found a transmission set-up which worked for him. Unfortunately for Mikkelsen, power-steering and engine problems intervened before he was able to demonstrate his potential for pace.
Mikkelsen’s first half of the year has netted a single podium, with third place in Sweden and he arrives on the Italian island 65 points adrift of his series leading team-mate Thierry Neuville.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare,” Mikkelsen told Motorsport.com. “Finally when I feel I can drive the car then I had the problems [in Portugal], it’s a bit frustrating.
"Of course I was pissed off with Portugal and I would like to have had a result, but I’m also a bit relieved because now I have a car that I like.”
Mikkelsen explained the set-up changes he did with the car ahead of Portugal, which he’s confident will work just as well in Sardinia.
“We worked a lot and made some changes with the set-up in the differentials,” he said. “Before, I struggled to get the front turned in under braking and when I was going to the throttle then I would lose the rear.
"Now I can get the front turned and the rear is more stable; we went softer with the rear and more open on the front [differential]. I still think there is small room for improvement, but we’re going in the right direction.
“Me and Anders [Jaeger, co-driver], we have been frustrated. We think that people think we have lost it, but we just didn’t really have the feeling with the car and, at this level, you need to be in one with the car. I have been fighting in every corner so far this year, but this will work in Sardinia.”
While Mikkelsen might have the car working to his liking, Sardinia has been anything but a happy hunting ground for him in the past. He’s been off the road six times in eight starts and only finished in the top 10 once, when he posted fourth for Volkswagen in 2014.
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