•Defending champion heads SKODA one-two-three on island
thriller•Bouffier upholds Peugeot honour in fourth to maintain
title attack
Juho Hanninen has made it three wins from four starts in this
year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge to move back into the
lead of the all-action series with a dramatic victory on Sata Rallye
Acores. Driving a SKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, the defending IRC
champion was embroiled in a close battle with rising star Andreas
Mikkelsen starting the final day of the gravel event. But a courageous
run through Saturday’s second stage handed him a slender
advantage over the Norwegian that he maintained to the finish.
A hat trick of stage wins on Friday afternoon had propelled Mikkelsen
to within 1.3s of Hanninen starting day three. And the fight for glory
took another dramatic twist when Mikkelsen went faster than Hanninen
on Saturday’s opening run to snatch the lead by 2.7s, despite
bashing his Fabia’s left-rear wheel on an earth bank in thick
With fog still proving a nuisance on stage 14, Mikkelsen admitted he
was too cautious through the run and slipped back as Hanninen threw
caution to the wind to regain the lead with a blistering drive.
Mikkelsen won the Grupo Marques superspecial to narrow the
Finn’s margin to 10.9s with two stages remaining when a decision
was made for both drivers to hold station to ensure a dominant finish
for the Czech manufacturer, which now heads Peugeot in the
makes’ standings by 48 points.
The result also means Hanninen, who was using Michelin tyres and has
won more IRC rounds than any other driver with eight victories,
secured the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is
presented on all rounds of the IRC to the driver best embodying the
spirit of the rallying legend. 
Although he ultimately had to settle for second place, the
22-year-old Mikkelsen can take plenty of positives from his mature
performance in the Azores after he recorded a total of six stage wins
and his first podium since RACMSA Rally of Scotland last season.
Bruno Magalhaes, the winner in the Azores in 2010, was in third place
at the start of day three when the rear differential support on his
Peugeot Sport Portugal 207 broke, forcing the 31-year-old’s
retirement following Saturday’s first stage. “The support
was almost on the ground and there was nothing we could do,” he
said. “One more time it is bad luck when we are fighting for the
podium. I’m very disappointed.”
Magalhaes’ misfortune enabled Kopecky to claim a comfortable
third place despite the onset of a powersteering problem on Saturday
morning, which proved a particular hindrance to the Czech driver on
the very narrow and twisty stage 14. With a clear margin over Bryan
Bouffier in fourth, the mechanical failure went unpunished and Kopecky
took his fourth podium finish of the season.
Bouffier was the highest-placed event newcomer at the wheel of his
Peugeot France 207. The Rallye Monte-Carlo winner ran first on the
road on the final day and his capture of fourth overall means he
remains firmly in contention for the IRC drivers’ crown.
Patrik Sandell said he lacked the confidence to attack on
Saturday’s opening fog-hit stage and adopted a cautious approach
to finish fifth in his SKODA Sweden-entered Fabia, his best result in
the IRC to date. He rounded out a solid performance by winning the
last stage.
Ricardo Moura dominated the IRC Production Cup category in his
Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer and finished sixth overall in the process.
Little troubled the local hero who resisted the temptation to try to
replicate the fifth place he achieved in the Azores in 2010 in order
to secure maximum points in the Azorean and Portuguese championships.
Vitor Lopes finished seventh in a Subaru Impreza with Vitor Pascoal
eighth at the wheel of another Lancer.
Behind Sergio Silva in ninth, Yokohama-backed Fumio Nutahara claimed
his maiden IRC drivers’ championship point on his first
appearance in Subaru’s R4-specification Impreza. The Japanese
thought his challenge was over when his car’s engine cut
following a water splash on stage 14 but he fought back to clinch 10th
Jean-Michel Raoux extended his lead of the IRC 2WD Cup by finishing
an impressive second in class to Paulo Maciel. Defending champion
Harry Hunt’s challenge ended on Saturday’s opening stage
when he got beached on an earth bank.
After retiring when he broke his suspension nudging an earth bank on
Friday morning, Guy Wilks elected not to restart on Saturday under
SupeRally regulations in his Peugeot UK 207. Nutahara’s Subaru
team-mate Toshi Arai did restart under SupeRally following his exit on
Friday with an electrical fault but he suffered further delay when he
had to stop to change a tyre on stage 14.

Juho Hanninen (Finland), SKODA Fabia S2000, first overall:
“It’s been a good weekend and big thanks to the team. We
had three ŠKODAs on the podium so that’s a great result.
We had a good fight with Andreas, especially yesterday and this
victory feels very good.”
Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway), SKODA Fabia S2000, second overall:
“Second place is very good for the whole team who did a
fantastic job all weekend. Juho has been incredibly quick and there
was nothing we could do about that. Maybe next time.”
Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic), SKODA Fabia S2000, third overall:
“It was a pity for Bruno because we were having a nice battle
for third and the feeling is always better when you have a nice
battle. But I am happy to be third on my first gravel rally for one

1 Juho Hanninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) SKODA Fabia S2000
1h07m45.8s2 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Fløene (NOR) SKODA
Fabia S2000 +42.3s3 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) SKODA Fabia
S2000 +1m46.0s4 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207
S2000 +3m36.2s5 Patrik Sandell (SWE)/Staffan Parmander (SWE) SKODA
Fabia S2000 +4m33.3s6 Ricardo Moura (POR)/Sandro Eiro (POR) Ralliart
Lancer Evolution IX +6m07.0s7 Vitor Lopes (POR)/Hugo Magalhaes (POR)
Subaru Impreza STI WRX +9m52.1s8 Vitor Pascoal (POR)/Luis Ramalho
(POR) Ralliart Lancer Evolution X +12m47.3s9 Sergio Silva (POR)/Nelson
Cordeiro (POR) Subaru Impreza STI WRX +14m00.3s10 Fumio Nutahara
(JPN)/Hakaru Ichino (JPN) Subaru Impreza R4 +18m10.8sIRC Production
Cup: Ricardo Moura (POR)/Sandro Eiro (POR) Ralliart Lancer Evolution
IXIRC 2WD Cup: Paulo Maciel (POR)/Filipe Gouveira (POR) Citroen Saxo

Drivers after round six of 111 Juho Hanninen (Finland) 83pts2 Bryan
Bouffier (France) 79pts3 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) 70pts= Freddy
Loix (Belgium) 70pts5 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) 48pts6 Andreas
Mikkelsen (Norway) 46pts7 Guy Wilks (United Kingdom) 45pts8 Toni
Gardemeister (Finland) 18pts9 Hans Weijs (Netherlands) 15pts10 Bruno
Magalhaes (Portugal) 14pts= Patrik Sandell (Sweden) 14pts
etcManufacturers after round six of 111 SKODA 229pts2 Peugeot
181pts3 Subaru 49pts4 M-Sport 45pts5 Ralliart 42pts6 Honda 28pts7
PROTON 17pts8 Abarth 12pts
IRC Production Cup after round six of 111 Florian Gonon (Switzerland)
50pts2 Jose Luis Barrios (Spain) 25pts= Jonas Langenakens (Belgium)
25pts= Ricardo Moura (Portugal) 25pts= Volodymyr Pechenyk (Ukraine)
25pts6 Toshi Arai (Japan) 18pts= Vitor Lopes (Portugal) 18pts= Anthony
Martin (Belgium) 18pts= Yuriy Shapovalov (Ukraine) 18pts= Vojtech
Stajf (Czech Republic) 18pts etcIRC 2WD Cup drivers after round six of
111 Jean-Michel Raoux (France) 49pts2 Pierre Campana (France)
25pts= Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi (France) 25pts= Paulo Maciel
(Portugal) 25pts= Kris Princen (Belgium) 25pts= Joan Vinyes (Spain)
25pts7 Gorka Antxustegi (Spain) 18pts= Michael Burri (Switzerland)
18pts= Vlad Cosma (Romania) 18pts= Tommy Doyle (Ireland) 18pts= Guy
Fiori (France) 18pts etcIRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round six of
111 Peugeot 137pts2 Honda 125pts3 M-Sport 91pts4 Abarth 58pts5 SKODA

SS1: Andreas MikkelsenSS2-12: Juho HanninenSS13: Andreas
MikkelsenSS14-17: Juho Hanninen
Day one (Thursday 14 July):SS1: Lagoa-Marques 1 (13.06kms): Andreas
MikkelsenSS2: Coroa Da Mata 1 (7.50kms): Bruno MagalhaesSS3: Grupo
Marques Super Special Stage 1 (2.00kms): Juho Hanninen
Day two (Friday 15 July):SS4: Batalha Golfe 1 (7.90kms): Juho
HanninenSS5: Feteiras 1 (7.47kms): Stage cancelled due to safety
reasonsSS6: Sete Cidades 1 (18.30kms): Juho HanninenSS7: Batalha Golfe
2 (7.90kms): Andreas MikkelsenSS8: Feteiras 2 (7.47kms): Juho
HanninenSS9: Sete Cidades 2 (18.30kms): Stage cancelled due to safety
reasonsSS10: Remedios-Agua De Pau (7.15kms): Andreas MikkelsenSS11:
Lagoa-Marques 2 (13.06kms): Andreas MikkelsenSS12: Coroa Da Mata 2
(7.50kms): Andreas Mikkelsen
Day three (Saturday 16 July):SS13: Graminhais 1 (20.80kms): Jan
KopeckySS14: Tronqueira 1 (21.94kms): Juho HanninenSS15: Grupo Marques
Super Special Stage 2 (2.00kms): Andreas MikkelsenSS16: Graminhais 2
(20.80kms): Juho HanninenSS17: Tronqueira 2 (21.94kms): Patrik Sandell
IRC rally wins in 2011 (drivers)Juho Hanninen: 3Bryan Bouffier:
1Freddy Loix: 1Thierry Neuville: 1IRC rally wins in 2011
(manufacturers)SKODA: 4Peugeot: 2 
IRC stage wins in 2011 (drivers)Juho Hanninen: 15Andreas Mikkelsen:
14Thierry Neuville: 12Jan Kopecky: 11Freddy Loix: 10Guy Wilks: 7Bryan
Bouffier: 6Stephane Sarrazin: 4Giandomenico Basso: 1Francois Delecour:
1Bruno Magalhaes: 1Patrik Sandell: 1Nicolas Vouilloz: 1
Stage wins in 2011 (manufacturers)SKODA: 52Peugeot: 32

Eurosport, Europe’s leading sports entertainment group and the
media partner of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will show
coverage of Sata Rallye Acores as follows:
Saturday 16 July23:00-23:30: Day two highlights
(Eurosport)23:00-23:30: Day two highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Sunday 17 July24:00-24:30: Rally Review (Eurosport)**This programme
will be shown at 24:30-25:00 on Eurosport France24:00-24:30: Rally
Review (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Monday 18 July07:00-07:30: Rally Review replayed (Eurosport
Asia-Pacific)Daily highlights will also be shown at
and via the IRC iPhone and iPad App. All times are CET.

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