Ex-VW driver Andreas Mikkelsen to start 2017 WRC in R5 Skoda

Volkswagen refugee Andreas Mikkelsen will step down to a Skoda Fabia R5 for the 2017 World Rally Championship season-opener in Monte Carlo, ending his search for a factory seat

Ex-VW driver Andreas Mikkelsen to start 2017 WRC in R5 Skoda

Despite winning the final round of the 2016 championship in Australia last month, Mikkelsen has been forced to sit and watch as erstwhile VW team-mates Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala claimed new works drives at M-Sport and Toyota.

A seat in DMACK's Ford team was Mikkelsen's last remaining World Rally Car possibility, but Autosport understands that British Rally champion Elfyn Evans will soon be announced in that drive.

Mikkelsen's focus is now on keeping his eye in with a programme of WRC events in 2017 before a full factory return in '18.

"The consequence of Volkswagen withdrawing from the championship is that all the WRC seats were already taken," said Mikkelsen.

"Therefore, my 2017 season will be all about keeping my rally skills warm and finding a seat in the right team to be able to fight for the world championship in 2018.

"We don't know what the upcoming season will bring yet. But of course I hope to get to drive as much as possible and we are working on a plan to do selected rallies."

Mikkelsen won two Intercontinental Rally Challenge titles with Skoda's UK team in 2011 and '12 before getting his VW WRC chance.

"It feels a bit like coming home," he said.

"It was Skoda that gave me a chance in the beginning and together we got to celebrate two champion titles in the IRC championship, which gave me the opportunity to drive for Volkswagen Motorsport.

"Now that the situation is like it is, I think it will be fun to compete for Skoda again. We have many good memories."

Mikkelsen had been linked - along with Mads Ostberg - to a bid to revive the 2017 specification VW Polo R WRC.

With the date for Monte Carlo entries already having closed, those hopes look to be fading fast.

The Middle Eastern-based bid has almost certainly folded now, with Nasser Al Attiyah looking more likely to drive a 2016-spec Polo.

While Ostberg will not compete in Monte Carlo, he is expected to return for Sweden in either a VW or a Ford.

2017 WRC DRIVER LINE-UP

Hyundai: Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo
M-Sport Ford: Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tanak
DMACK Ford: Elfyn Evans (yet to be announced)
Citroen: Kris Meeke, Craig Breen, Stephane Lefebvre
Toyota: Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hanninen, Esapekka Lappi

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