Firies rally engineer behind Norwegian ace’s return
Former World Rally Championship frontrunner Andreas Mikkelsen was due to make a surprise return to competition this weekend and he had a Kerry rally engineer at his side.
The Norwegian was due to contest this weekend’s Spa Rally in Belgium at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo R5.
His plan was scuppered when the Belgian government announced Coronavirus restrictions on all sporting events and the event was canlleced on Thursday night.
Firies man Richard Browne is an engineer with Volkswagen Motorsport in Germany and had been assigned to Mikkelsen’s car for the weekend.
The pair previously worked together when Mikkelsen was a factory driver with the German team back in 2016. Browne was the engineering mastermind behind Mikkelsen’s victory on Rally Spain in 2015 and again in Australia in the following year.
When Volkswagen curtailed its WRC programme at the end of the 2016 , Mikkelsen transferred to the Hyundai World Rally Team and Browne was re-deployed within the Volkswagen outfit.
They had to wait until last Wednesday and Thursday before they crossed paths again.
They prepared for this weekend’s (now cancelled)rally by testing the car in Belgium. It was Mikkelsen and his codriver Anders Jæger’s first time driving a Volkswagen in over three years.
“It’s nice to be back working with Andreas and Anders again, and to be honest, it was an easy test because I know what he is looking for in a car, and we could find it very quickly,” Browne told the Killarney Advertiser. “The rest of the test was about learning more with the Pirelli tyres, and also learning what to do when the road gets dirty from all the cuts.”
The Spa Rally was just one of 100s of events across Europe that did not run over the weekend as attempts to contain Coronavirus were escalated.
This article was first published in the Killarney Advertiser on March 13. Kerry Motorsport News is the official motorsport content provider to the Killarney Advertiser.