Rally of Scotland joy for Mikkelsen
- 10th October 2011, 10:01am
Mikkelsen’s success combined with Juho Hanninen’s second place, hands SKODA its second IRC manufacturers’ title in as many years subject to official confirmation. It also means the 22-year-old from Norway becomes the youngest IRC event winner and the sixth different victor in this year’s IRC such has been the extremely open and competitive nature of the series in 2011.
Bryan Bouffier was the leading Peugeot finisher in third overall to maintain his title push with Irishman Craig Breen a hugely impressive fourth overall in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta. Peugeot France driver Bouffier overcame brake problems on Sunday morning while Breen’s ultimate pace on the final day was masked by a cracked exhaust manifold.
Jan Kopecky maintained his lead at the top of the IRC standings by finishing fifth but will face opposition from SKODA Motorsport team-mate Hanninen, Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg’s Thierry Neuville, Mikkelsen, Bouffier and Freddy Loix in his bid to land his first drivers’ crown after finishing runner-up for the last two years when the IRC concludes in Cyprus from 3-5 November.
Mikkelsen, in a SKODA UK-backed Fabia Super 2000, moved into the Rally of Scotland lead on Saturday’s second stage and was in control from the moment Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks spun into a ditch and got stuck on stage five, Errochty, one of four stages shown live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player during the weekend.
Co-driven by fellow Norwegian Ola Floene, Mikkelsen began the final day with a lead of 50.7s. Although the first two slippery stages through the stunning Stirlingshire countryside this morning were trouble-free for Mikkelsen, a right-rear puncture six kilometres from the end of Sunday’s third test allowed Hanninen to trim his advantage to less than 30 seconds.
Mikkelsen hit back with the fastest time through stage 12 before another puncture, this time his front-right tyre three kilometres from the finish of the next run, caused further anguish. But after completing the two stages around Scone Palace on the outskirts of Perth unscathed, Mikkelsen was able to celebrate a popular and hugely deserved victory having come close on several occasions this season.
For Hanninen, second place represented a remarkable reversal of fortune after set-up issues held him back on Saturday morning. The Finn, the winner in Scotland in 2010, was fastest on three of Sunday’s five forest-based tests.
Behind fifth-placed Kopecky, Neuville’s efforts to recover from a costly spin on stage 10 netted sixth overall after he overtook Toni Gardemeister on the penultimate stage. Seventh for Gardemeister means he has scored points on all nine IRC events he has contested this year in his TGS Worldwide Fabia.
M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Alastair Fisher was the leading British finisher in eighth overall after the Northern Irishman successfully fought back from a broken driveshaft on Saturday morning. Wilks should have taken ninth following his comeback drive only to tear a wheel off his car on a gatepost on the final stage to compound a frustrating season.
Matthias Kahle bagged the final point for SKODA Auto Deutschland, the multiple German champion’s first in the IRC. It was also the 50th event he and co-driver Peter Gobel have contested together with SKODA.
SKODA Sweden’s Patrik Sandell moved into fourth overall after going fastest on stage 10. However, in doing so he damaged his car’s suspension running wide near the finish to the point he was unable to go any further. Leading female driver Burcu Cetinkaya retired her SKODA on the road section heading to stage 10 with steering problems.
An electrical glitch forced PG Andersson’s retirement on stage 11 after the Swede had run as high as fourth in the overall classification. PROTON Motorsports’ team-mate Alister McRae was unable to restart on Sunday after he stopped on Saturday with a holed sump on his Satria Neo S2000.
IRC Production Cup
Toshi Arai made the most of Jarkko Nikara’s retirement on stage 13 to win the IRC Production Cup for the first time in an impressive 10th overall in his R4-specification Subaru Impreza. Nikara was leading when he spun his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer into a ditch and got stuck. David Bogie started day two in second in class but tore the left-rear wheel off his Lancer running wide on a corner nearing the end of stage 11. Jason Pritchard finished second in his Impreza, despite having to drive through Sunday’s stages with a broken damper, which a lack of spare parts meant he was unable to replace. Arai’s team-mate Fumio Nutahara made it a Subaru podium lockout with Marco Cavigioli a strong fourth.
IRC 2WD Cup
Martin Kangur put a frustrating season behind him to win the IRC 2WD Cup in his Honda Civic Type R. The young Estonian moved in front when Mark Donnelly retired his Clio R3 with a broken engine on Saturday afternoon. Harry Hunt should have finished second but slid into a ditch on stage 11 and was unable to regain the road. Jean-Michel Raoux missed a golden opportunity to move ahead of Stefano Albertini, who was not competing in Scotland, to the top of the IRC 2WD Cup standings only to go off the road on stage 13. Rising Scottish star John MacCrone finished second in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 with Janos Puskadi third for Honda, which crowns the Japanese make as the unofficial IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers’ champion.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway), SKODA Fabia S2000, first overall: “What a fantastic weekend. We were so close to winning in Hungary and even closer in Sanremo, but we could not have found a better place to score our first IRC win on SKODA UK’s home event. The feeling is just amazing and this result gives us something to really build on for our next rally in Cyprus.”
Juho Hanninen (Finland), SKODA Fabia S2000, second overall: “It’s an exciting end to the IRC and second place gets good points for SKODA, which was the main target this weekend. It’s not been an easy rally but I am very happy to finish second.”
Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, third overall: “Of course you always want to be on the top but I have to be happy with my performance for my first time here and on gravel too. The stages were tricky but beautiful at the same time.”
TOP 10 IRC POSITIONS AFTER DAY TWO
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Floene (NOR) SKODA Fabia S2000 1h55m17.2s
2 Juho Hanninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) SKODA Fabia S2000 +26.4s
3 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m35.3s
4 Craig Breen (IRL)/Gareth Roberts (GBR) M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 +2m05.1s
5 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) SKODA Fabia S2000 +2m11.7s
6 Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m10.4s
7 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tapio Suominen (FIN) SKODA Fabia S2000 +3m11.5s
8 Alastair Fisher (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 +4m59.9s
9 Toshi Arai (JPN)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Subaru Impreza R4 STI +8m17.6s
10 Matthias Kahle (GER)/Peter Gobel (GER) SKODA Fabia S2000 +9m36.1s
IRC Production Cup: Toshi Arai (JPN)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Subaru Impreza R4 STI
IRC 2WD Cup: Martin Kangur (EST)/Silver Kutt (EST) Honda Civic Type R
IRC STANDINGS (BEST OF SEVEN SCORES)
Drivers after round 10 of 11*
1 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) 131pts
2 Juho Hanninen ( Finland) 125pts
3 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) 115pts
4 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) 111.5pts
5 Bryan Bouffier (France) 110.5pts
6 Freddy Loix (Belgium) 103pts
7 Guy Wilks (United Kingdom) 47pts
8 Toni Gardemeister (Finland) 44pts
9 Bruno Magalhaes (Portugal) 26pts
10 Craig Breen (Ireland) 24pts
Manufacturers after round 10 of 11*
1 SKODA 316.5pts
2 Peugeot 241.5pts
3 M-Sport 107pts
4 Subaru 79pts
5 Ralliart 73pts
6 PROTON 41pts
7 Honda 34pts
8 Abarth 15pts
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