Rally cars: They look like the cars you see on the street, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends. We asked Andreas Mikkelsen to teach us to drive his Skoda Fabia S2000 to see how different they are...
The saying goes, "If you don't ask, you don't get," right? It took one slightly tipsy ask at the Skoda Citigo launch to see whether Skoda would be foolish enough to let me have a go in its internationally acclaimed Fabia S2000 rally car. It turns out: yes, we could have a play. Not only that, but Skoda's star driver, Andreas Mikkelson, would be on hand to show me the ropes. Re...sult.
Phone calls were made, dates were set, and I began to get very, very excited. Driving a rally car is one of those bucket list things. Few people will ever sit behind the wheel of a proper, championship-winning car, fewer will actually be able to drive them to victory, and maybe a couple of them will be absolute novices. I'm one of that couple.
At 5 a.m. I got up, made sure I felt human, and headed to the supersecret (and very easy-to-find) Millbrook Proving Ground -- a place where cars of all types are tested to their limits. Other than the Fabia S2000 rally car, I can't tell you what I saw there, but you'll see much of it on the road before 2013 is out.
Anyway -- Andreas Mikkelsen is a very, very talented chap. He started life as a ski racer (he entered his first race at age 3), but injury forced him out of competition.
Thankfully his dad happened to have a few rally cars kicking about and after a quick go on the ice Andreas had a new "thing." Fast-forward a handful of years and he's now the Intercontinental Rally Championship champion. At 23, that ain't bad going. He's likely to win it again in 2014, too. The talented sod.
He kindly agreed to teach me how to hustle his whip -- essentially telling me to drive it harder and harder to make sure (a) it looks awesome and (b) I didn't destroy the car's internals.
In all honesty, it was an incredible thing to experience. Everything just...worked. What a day. What a car. And what a teacher.
Oh and one other thing: Normally IRC cars run at 265 bhp. Not when we drove it...