Mikko Heikkilä is gearing up for the weekend’s ERC Rally Rally di Roma Capitale, where he will make his debut behind the wheel of Skoda’s newest rally car, the Fabia RS Rally2. Also making his first appearance in Italy, Heikkilä is aiming to get more comfortable with tarmac this weekend.
Mikko Heikkilä, co-driven by Samu Vaaleri, will debut in Italy as the European Rally Championship continues with its sixth round of the season. The tarmac event will take place in the outskirts of the capital city, Rome. Heikkilä is excited about the distinctive Italian roads, with a mission to build up his pace on tarmac as the competition unfolds.
“As we've reviewed the special stages through videos, they seem to be closest in nature to the stages to the Canary Islands. The character of the roads is quite similar, though the surface is different. The stages might be a bit more slippery and bumpy, but they look really enjoyable and drivable. If we could gradually find our rhythm on asphalt, that's exactly what I'd hope for,” Heikkilä reveals.
Whilst debuting in Italy, the Racing Factory driver is also making his first competitive appearance behind the wheel of the newest rally car from Skoda, the Fabia RS Rally2. Heikkilä had his first go with the new-generation Skoda back in Finland, and the Finn is scheduled to drive pre-event tests with the new car on tarmac too.
"Of course a new car is always a bit of a wild card as we haven't had a chance to try it on asphalt yet. But hopefully, it'll fit like a glove. The new car has more torque, and the engine felt really good when we tested it on gravel. I've also heard that the new car performs well on asphalt, although the old one wasn't bad either," Heikkilä showcases.
After the three-day event in Rome, covering almost 190 kilometers of special stages, Heikkilä will be heading straight to Jyväskylä for the Finnish round of the WRC, Secto Rally Finland. Whilst being Heikkilä’s career-first double header on an international level, the Finn is also set to compete with the new RS Rally2 in Finland.
"Since there were no reasonable flights back on Sunday evening, we'll be flying back home on Monday. As soon as our wheels touch the ground, we'll set our course towards Jyväskylä for the recce starting on Tuesday. It's the first time we're in a situation with back-to-back rallies, but it's a positive thing, and I'm all for it," Heikkilä beams.
The ERC Rally di Roma Capitale kicks off on Friday, 28th July, and concludes on Sunday, 30th July. With 13 special stages and a total of 189.50 kilometers of competitive racing, fans can catch the action on ERC+ with WRC+ credentials, and CMore streaming service.
Rally di Roma Capitale schedule (local time CET):
10:30 – Shakedown (Fumone) – 4,00 km
20:05 – SS1 Colosseo Aci Roma – 1,30 km
10:03 – SS2 Guarcino – Altipiani di Arcinazzo 1 – 11,72 km
11:06 – SS3 Rocca di Cave – Subiaco 1 – 32,30 km
12:09 – SS4 Affile – Bellegra 1 – 7,32 km
15:02 SS5 – Guarcino – Altipiani di Arcinazzo 2 – 11,72 km
16:05 SS6 – Rocca di Cave – Subiaco 2 – 32,30 km
17:08 SS7 – Affile – Bellegra 2 – 7,32 km
07:51 SS8 – Fiuggi 1 – 6,72 km
08:51 SS9 – Alatri 1 – 6,96 km
10:16 SS10 – Santopadre 1 – 29,08 km
13:01 SS11 – Fiuggi 2 – 6,72 km
14:26 SS12 – Alatri 2 – 6,96 km
17:05 SS13 – Santopadre 2 – 29,08 km
ERC point standings after 5/8 events:
1. Hayden Paddon 142
2. Martins Sesks 108
3. Mads Ostberg 80
4. Mathieu Franceschi 63
5. Efren Llarena 50
6. Mikko Heikkilä 49