February 28, 2012

Mikkelsen makes more IRC history in Azores

Skoda UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen has become the first driver to win three consecutive rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), after taking his factory-prepared Fabia S2000 to victory on the opening round of this year’s series, the
Sata Rallye Açores (22-25 February).

Having become the youngest IRC champion last year, Andreas added victory in the Azores to his victories in Cyprus and Scotland last year to make it a magnificent three IRC wins in a row.

Co-driven by Ola Floene, Andreas led the Sata Rallye Acores, held on the narrow and slippery gravel roads on the picturesque mid-Atlantic island of Sao Miguel, from start to finish.

In an incredibly close battle with Juho Hanninen (Skoda Motorsport), which raged for all 14 special stages, Andreas eventually won the event by 25.1 seconds.

Key to Andreas’ success was his time through SS5, the first run through the rally’s signature Sete Cidades volcano stage, when he took 10.4 seconds off Hanninen. His consistent fast pace and a mistake-free event were other telling factors.


Andreas also won the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. The recipient is selected by a three-man judging panel, consisting of Jimmy McRae, Jean-Pierre Nicolas (IRC’s Motorsport Development Manager) and Gilbert Roy (Director of Editorial and Programme Development for Eurosport Events).

The two Skoda drivers set the fastest times on all the stages, with Andreas claiming 10 stage wins. Having finished 1st and 2nd in the Azores, Skoda also claims maximum points, as it attempts to win the IRC Manufacturers’ title for a third time this year.

Andreas said, “It’s a perfect start to the season for Skoda UK, I’m so happy for the whole team, and it’s a perfect result for Skoda with a one-two – it couldn’t be better. We had a great fight with Juho (Hanninen) right to the bitter end. We pushed hard all the way to the finish, and I’m so happy for myself, Ola and the team, who have done a fantastic job, that we finished on the top. I’m extremely happy about this.”

The next round of the IRC is the asphalt Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés (15-17 March)

Sata Rallye Acores – Top 10 results (provisional after SS14)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Skoda Fabia S2000)….2 hrs 12 mins 43.2 secs
2. Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula (Skoda Fabia S2000).…+25.1 secs
3. Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Peugeot 207 S2000)….+2 mins 03.3 secs
4. Sepp Wiegand/Timo Gottschalk (Skoda Fabia S2000)….+5 mins 20.3 secs
5. Hermann Gassner Jnr/Klaus Wicha (Skoda Fabia S2000)….+6 mins 23.9 secs
6. Ricardo Moura/Sancho Eiro (Mitsubishi Lancer)….+8 mins 43.5 secs
7. Oleksandr Salyuk/Pavel Cherepin (Ford Fiesta S2000)….+10 mins 28.1 secs
8. Sergio Silva/Fernando Nunes (Subaru Impreza)….+15 mins 59.1 secs
9. Ruben Rodrigues/Estevao Rodrigues (Mitsubishi Lancer)….+17 mins 15 secs
10. Miguel Barbosa/Justino Reis (Mitsubishi Lancer)….+18 mins 01.6 secs


IRC points (after Round 1)
Drivers’
1. Andreas Mikkelsen….25 pts
2. Juho Hanninen….18 pts
3. Bryan Bouffier….15 pts
4. Sepp Wiegand….12 pts
5. Hermann Gassner Jnr….10 pts
6. Ricardo Moura….8 pts

Manufacturers’
1. Skoda….43 pts
2. Peugeot….21 pts
3. Subaru….18 pts
4. M-Sport….12 pts


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