Former Hyundai World Rally Championship competitor Andreas Mikkelsen believes his new role as Pirelli’s tyre development driver will aid his attempts to secure a full-time seat in the series again.
October’s Wales Rally GB was the last time Mikkelsen competed in the category, with his sixth-place finish bringing the curtain down on a turbulent two-year stint with the Hyundai Motorsport squad.
He was replaced by reigning WRC champion Ott Tanak in the manufacturer’s line-up for this year.
Mikkelsen beat other out-of-contract drivers to land the Pirelli role, as five-time WRC event winner Kris Meeke, New Zealander Hayden Paddon and series stalwart Jari-Matti Latvala were also believed to have been in the frame.
Mikkelsen now hopes his venture with Pirelli will send out the right signals to each of the team bosses.
“I think it’s a very positive sign that Pirelli has given me this job, it shows that they believe in me,” the Norwegian told Autosport.
“I am going to be driving a lot, so I will be in a good rhythm and I will be ready for whenever the chance comes around for me to get back into the World Rally Championship.
“My aim is to be back with a top team in the WRC.
“I am keeping my options open but I’m in contact with all of the teams – it’s just a case of waiting to see what the possibilities are.”
The 31-year-old heads to Sardinia later this month where he will drive a Citroen C3 World Rally Car on the Mediterranean island’s asphalt roads and unforgiving gravel tracks as Pirelli steps up its development programme.
It was announced as the WRC’s official control tyre supplier back in December – a role it will perform for a four-year cycle that takes it to the end of the 2024 season.
“I have the necessary experience to do this job,” added Mikkelsen.
“I have been in the World Rally Championship for a number of years so I know what the tyres need to do, how they should work.
“I think that we can make a tyre everyone will be happy with once the new season starts in 2021.
“I am very, very happy to be back in a rally car – it has been a while since Wales Rally GB.
“Of course, I wish I was doing some rallies but, for now, it is testing and it is better than nothing, so it keeps me match fit. I am very happy about that.”