Mikko Heikkilä drives Toyota’s new Rally2 car to an opening victory in Italy

Mikko Heikkilä clinched an almost demonstration-style victory in the opening round of the Italian gravel rally series.
Mikko Heikkilä
Mikko Heikkilä. Photo by: RaceEmotion Photography
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This weekend marked the beginning of Heikkilä’s collaboration with the Step Five Motorsport team. Throughout this year, he will compete in the ERC driving the team’s Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car.

During Rally Città di Foligno, nine special stages were contested, on which Heikkilä set the fastest time on eight. He secured his victory by a margin of 40.9 seconds ahead of Alberto Battistoli, a familiar face in the European Rally Championship.

The rally presented challenging conditions, but Heikkilä took control from the second special stage onwards, culminating in his and Toyota’s new Rally2 car’s maiden victory in Italy.

“It took the first leg to get used to the varying levels of grip here. Once the rain stopped for the second leg, we were able to push a bit more,” Heikkilä commented.

The rally’s schedule included three special stages, each run three times.

“On the third loop of stages, the conditions became extreme with heavy rainfall. Especially on the last two stages, there was a lot of water in the grooves. It was brilliant practice for these kinds of conditions in the future,” Heikkilä said.

Heikkilä, driving his first competition with Step Five Motorsport, was extremely pleased with the team’s collaboration and looks forward to the upcoming European Rally Championship season with anticipation.

“It was great to see how passionate, committed, and well-organized the team is. A big thanks to the team. I knew the Rally2 Toyota would be strong on these stages, and the car truly showed its strength in these difficult conditions. Our Michelins also worked brilliantly in all the varying conditions we encountered today. A massive thanks to Kristian (Temonen, co-driver) as well; he is very good at his job, and it’s a pleasure to look forward to working together with him in the future,” Heikkilä thanked.

Experiencing his first Italian gravel rally, Heikkilä was also pleasantly surprised by the warm reception from the local rally fans. After such a positive experience, he is eager to proceed to the series’ second round, scheduled for early April.

“Foligno gave us a warm welcome, and the locals seemed excited about a new driver and a new car. The event was well-organized, with the ceremonial start on Saturday was very nice. Overall, it was a very positive weekend,” Heikkilä concluded.

The European Rally Championship season will kick off in mid-April with a gravel rally in Hungary.

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