Andreas Mikkelsen showed dominance from start to finish to construct a comfortable WRC 3 category lead on Friday at ACI Rally Monza.
On his first competitive world championship outing since Wales Rally GB in 2019, the Norwegian was quick from the get-go. Relentless rainfall resulted in super slippery conditions, which seemed to favour the Skoda Fabia Rally2 star.
He ran as high as third in the overall standings and pulled into the overnight service a whopping 52.5sec in front of nearest challenger Emil Lindholm in WRC 3. He was seventh overall.
Lindholm had much less breathing space than the rally leader. His advantage over third-placed Oliver Solberg was a tiny 1.2sec and the Skoda youngster had been pushing hard to make up for a stall on the day’s opener.
Title hopeful Jari Huttunen was 13.1sec further back in his Hyundai i20 R5. As the results currently stand, his position would be enough to take the championship crown, but a lot can happen between now and Sunday.
Fabia man Kajetan Kajetanowicz did his best to keep Huttunen close, but could only stay within 22.9sec of the Finn. Championship leader Marco Bulacia rounded out the top six in his Citroën C3 R5, but was 2min 08.1sec down on the leading pace.
Hyundai youngsters Josh McErlean and Gregoire Munster were seventh and eighth respectively after a challenging day at the Cathedral of Speed.
Umberto Scandola had a day to forget when a mechanical issue forced his retirement before the start of the first stage, whilst Yohan Rossel dropped over nine minutes with a damaged rear wheel on SS2.
Full coverage from ACI Rally Monza is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.