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Rally and Endurance

Monday 18th July 2011

ANDREAS SECURES HIS BEST IRC RESULT FOR ?KODA UK

Andreas Mikkelsen scored his best result for ŠKODA UK Motorsport in the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), after finishing 2nd on Rally Azores in his Fabia S2000.

Co-driven by Ola Fløene, the 22-year old FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy pilot mastered the wet and slippery gravel roads of the mid-Atlantic volcanic island to twice lead the event. He set six fastest and five second fastest stage times, as he battled for victory with ŠKODA Motorsport’s Juho Hänninen. Equally matched throughout the three day event, Andreas led after SS1, before a power steering problem dropped him temporarily to 3rd after SS3, before he fought back magnificently to retake the lead after SS13 – as he and Hänninen established a minute gap to their nearest rival.

The deciding moment came on SS14, which at 13.63 miles (21.94kms) was the longest stage of the event. In heavy rain and poor visibility, Andreas carefully negotiated the twisty test while Hänninen threw caution to the wind. The reigning IRC champion completed the stage 13.9 seconds quicker than Andreas, turning a 2.7sec deficit into a 11.2 second lead at a crucial part of the event. It was the largest margin that had separated Andreas and Hänninen all rally, and with just three stages remaining the top two positions were assured.

Andreas cruised through the final two stages to ensure his fantastic performance was rewarded with 2nd position – and his first podium for the ŠKODA UK Motorsport team. It was also a magnificent result for ŠKODA, as Jan Kopecký made it a 1-2-3 finish by claiming the final podium spot.

The result puts Hänninen back in the lead of the IRC Drivers’ standings, moves Andreas up to 6th in the order and increases ŠKODA’s advantage at the top of the Manufacturers’ table.

Andreas: “I’m pleased with our performance during Rally Azores, because we’ve been fast all weekend and able to challenge for victory with good pace and rhythm. I could have gone faster towards the end, but it would have meant taking risks and finishing on the podium was more important. The rain has made the stages very slippery and the visibility has been very poor at times. Conditions were tricky, but we had good pace notes, made very few mistakes and showed that we can challenge for rally wins.

“The ŠKODA UK Motorsport team has done a fantastic job this weekend, Ola and I have done well and it’s been a great result for ŠKODA, with three cars on the podium – and congratulations to Juho on a good win.”

The next round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is the Czech Rally Zlin (26-28 August).

Final overall positions (after SS17)

1. Juho Hänninen/Mikko Markkula (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….2hrs 19mins 03.8secs
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+42.3secs
3. Jan Kopecký/Petr Starý (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+1mins 46.0secs
4. Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Peugeot 207 S2000)….+3mins 36.2secs
5. Patrik Sandell/Staffan Parmander (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+4mins 33.3
Copyright Autofixtures 2011