November 05, 2012

Mikkelsen first to win back-to-back IRC titles

Skoda UK Motorsport's Andreas Mikkelsen has become the first driver to successfully defend his Intercontinental Rally Challenge title, after finishing 2nd on the final round, the Cyprus Rally, in his Fabia S2000.

Partnered by Ola Floene, who retains the co-drivers' title,
Andreas has won two rounds of this year's IRC, finished 2nd five times and recorded 58 stage wins. In fact, over the 2011 and '12 IRC seasons, Andreas has recorded an impressive 99 stage victories!

Skoda has dominated this year's IRC, scoring 120 stage wins out of a possible 172 on its way to be crowned IRC Manufacturers' champions for the third consecutive year. Four different Skoda drivers - Mikkelsen, Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky and Dimitar Iliev - won IRC events in 2012, Skoda drivers filled the final top four positions on the drivers' standings and the Fabia Super 2000 won eight out of the 13 rounds.

Andreas took an early lead in Cyprus with fastest time on the opening Pafos city centre stage, before losing two minutes and dropping to 7th after picking up a right rear puncture on Saturday's opening stage.

He launched an amazing comeback on the mixed surface stages in the rugged Troodos Mountains, setting seven fastest stage times over the next eight stages to close to within just 49 seconds of leader Nasser Al-Attiyah after SS10.

Another puncture on SS11 saw Andreas settle for 2nd place in Cyprus and the IRC title - and in tribute to the contribution his co-driver has made during his double title success, and indeed since the start of Andreas' career, Ola drove the final stage in Cyprus; setting a very respectable 13th fastest time!

"These have been the best two years of my life in the IRC with Skoda UK Motorsport and it's an amazing feeling to be champion again. I have to thank Skoda for giving me the chance to return to international rallying and giving me the best available car to help me develop as a driver," said Andreas.

"We tried hard to win the Cyprus Rally and we really went for it, but three punctures cost us a lot of time. The mixed surface format and the hot and rough conditions were a real challenge, but it’s been great fun to fight with Nasser and I’m really pleased with our performance."

Pierfrancesco Zanchi, Skoda UK Motorsport Team Principal said, "It's been another great season. We started the year aiming to defend the title, which isn't an easy thing to do. We've had our ups and downs, but I have to say I think we've done a really good job. We are really happy to celebrate back-to-back drivers' titles with Andreas and to have played our part in helping Skoda win three manufacturer titles in a row."

Final positions (provisional top 6 after SS13)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC)... 3 hrs 16 mins 25.2 secs
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (Skoda Fabia S2000)... +3 mins 35.3 secs
3. Toshi Arai/Dale Moscatt (Subaru Impreza)... +10 mins 07.1 secs
4. Jarkko Nikara/Jarkko Kalliolepo (Subaru Impreza)... +12 mins 42.1 secs
5. Sepp Wiegand/Timo Gottschalk (Skoda Fabia S2000)... +14 mins 00.6 secs
6. Savvas Savva/Andreas Papandreou (Mitsubishi Lancer)... +15 mins 45.1 secs

IRC points (provisional after Round 13)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen... 168 pts
2. Jan Kopecky... 101 pts
3. Juho Hanninen... 93 pts
4. Sepp Wiegand... 73 pts
5. Giandomenico Basso... 65 pts
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah... 50 pts


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