•SKODA UK’s Andreas Mikkelsen loses out in dramatic
Sanremo showdown•Jan Kopecky maintains IRC title advantage
despite failing to sparkle
Thierry Neuville has won Rallye Sanremo following a thrilling finish
to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge round on the Italian Riviera
this afternoon. Driving a Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 Super
2000, Neuville surged ahead on the demanding asphalt event with one
stage remaining, having cancelled out an overnight deficit of 16.6s.
By going fastest on the final test, Neuville and co-driver Nicolas
Gilsoul did just enough to beat SKODA UK Motorsport pair Andreas
Mikkelsen and Ola Floene for their second IRC victory of 2011 and
ensure Peugeot’s capture of the IRC’s trio of classic
events, Rallye Monte-Carlo, Tour de Corse and now Rallye Sanremo.
Furthermore, it was the fourth time in 2011 that a round of the
all-action IRC has been decided by a margin of less than two seconds
following close finishes in Canary Islands, Czech Republic and Hungary
earlier in the year. Neuville’s success has also underlined the
pace of Peugeot’s 207 Super 2000, which has led the way on the
demanding narrow and twisty roads in the hills overlooking the
Mediterranean Sea for a third year in succession.
Freddy Loix had started the second day of the rally leading by 2.7s
having moved ahead of Mikkelsen after winning Friday’s night
stage in his BFO-SKODA Rally Team Fabia. Mikkelsen, who had led from
the opening stage on Friday, reclaimed top spot on Saturday’s
first test when Loix made his characteristic slow start.
Mikkelsen remained in front until Loix retook the lead after going
fastest two stages later. He started stage 11 a mere 2.5s in front
only to crash on a fast downhill section approximately halfway through
the test, fortunately without injury to neither he nor co-driver
Frederic Miclotte. With his car blocking the narrow road, organisers
were forced to cancel the stage.
Neuville, 23, won the penultimate run, one of four stage wins during
the final day, to start the final test 0.3s ahead of Mikkelsen.
Despite a determined charge, the 22-year-old Norwegian was unable to
land his maiden IRC victory, having led for much of the event.
Loix, whose efforts earned him the prestigious Coilin McRae IRC Flat
Out Trophy, could have moved to the top of the IRC standings if
he’d claimed maximum points and rival Jan Kopecky remained in
fifth place, having been unable to replicate the pace that has carried
him to back-to-back victories in Czech Republic and Hungary. As it is,
by inheriting fourth, Kopecky’s comfortable lead remains intact
heading to the penultimate round in Scotland next month.
Bruno Magalhaes rounded out his 2011 IRC campaign with a strong fifth
place for Peugeot Sport Portugal. Aside from a handful of set-up
issues and a lack of brakes on Friday’s night stage little
troubled the multiple Portuguese champion, who set a number of
competitive times in his 207.
M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Umberto Scandola began day two as
the leading Italian but a steering problem on stage 10 dropped him to
seventh overall behind countryman Alessandro Perico in a privateer
Pierre Campana’s bid to emulate the fourth-place finish he
recorded on Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc was hampered by a plethora of
mechanical problems, which required the fitting of a new loom and
injection rack at midday service. He took eighth.
Toni Gardemeister extended his point-scoring run in this year’s
IRC to eight events after the Finn brought his TGS Worldwide Fabia
home in ninth position. It was the first time he’d finished
Rallye Sanremo in five attempts.
Factory PROTON driver Giandomenico Basso had been in the fight for a
top finish but a spin on stage five and an off-road moment on the
night stage when his intercom failed and he couldn’t hear the
instructions of his co-driver Mitia Dotta, dropped him out of
contention. Alternator problems on Saturday morning caused further
frustration but he fought back to deny Swiss Peugeot privateer
Gregoire Hotz the final point on the very last stage. 
Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks crashed out on Friday’s first
test. Australian Chris Atkinson also failed to complete the opening
run when his PROTON Motorsports’ Satria Neo stopped with a
suspected electrical failure. Karl Kruuda retired on Friday’s
night stage when a loss of brakes resulted in him sliding into a wall
and breaking his Fabia’s front-right wheel.
IRC Production CupFlorian Gonon claimed his third victory in the
inaugural IRC Production Cup after heading home Italian Ralliart
Mitsubishi Lancer driver Marco Cavigioli by a comfortable margin.
Gonon, driving a Subaru Impreza, was fastest in the category on all
but one stage. Irishman Eamonn Boland was third with Corrado Perino
fourth. Johan Heloise failed to finish.
IRC 2WD CupDavide Medici secured his maiden win in the IRC 2WD Cup
after seeing off the challenge of fellow Italian Stefano Albertini,
who last ground with set-up issues on the final day. Pierre-Antoine
Guglielmi, the winner of the IRC 2WD Cup in Corsica earlier this
season, finished third with Roberto Vescovi taking fourth.
Honda’s challenge unravelled when Sandro Sottile crashed on
stage four and Martin Kangur retired following a spate of mechanical
problems on Friday’s final three stages. Harry Hunt, the
defending IRC 2WD Cup champion, battled back from a tough opening day
to claim ninth with Elwis Chentre 10th in a SKODA Fabia R2. Michele
Tassone was the leading Abarth finisher.
Thierry Neuville (Belgium), Peugeot 207 S2000, first overall:
“I was flat out on that last stage, it was incredible and I
can’t believe the result. I pushed really hard, it was such a
nice battle over the weekend, so intensive because the IRC is such a
competitive championship. The car felt good, I am so happy. I hope
this win won’t be the last for me.”
Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway), SKODA Fabia S2000, second overall:
“I was right on the limit, we tried but it wasn’t enough.
But I have to be happy with this result because I certainly did expect
to be fighting with Freddy, Thierry and Bryan before the
Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, third overall:
“This is not the best result for me because I would have
preferred to have fought for the victory. But it’s a good result
for Peugeot with two cars on the podium. Thierry did the perfect
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2h19m57.8s2
Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) +1.5s3
Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Peugeot 207 S2000) +16.0s4 Jan
Kopeckyý/Petr Starý (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) +1m09.1s5
Bruno Magalhães/Paulo Grave (Peugeot 207 S2000) +1m26.0s6
Alessandro Perico/Fabrizio Carrara (Peugeot 207 S2000) +3m47.8s7
Umberto Scandola/Guido D’Amore (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000)
+4m05.9s8 Pierre Campana/Sabrina de Castelli (Peugeot 207 S2000)
+4m28.0s9 Toni Gardemeister/Tapio Suominen (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)
+5m24.1s10 Giandomenico Basso/Mitia Dotta (PROTON Satria Neo S2000)
IRC Production Cup: Florian Gonon (SUI)/Sandra Arlettaz (SUI) Subaru
Impreza WRXIRC 2WD Cup: Davide Medici (ITA)/Daniele De Luis (ITA)
Renault Clio S1600
Drivers after round nine of 111 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) 128pts2
Freddy Loix (Belgium) 103pts= Thierry Neuville (Belgium) 103pts4 Juho
Hanninen (Finland) 98pts5 Bryan Bouffier (France) 88pts6 Andreas
Mikkelsen (Norway) 74pts7 Guy Wilks (United Kingdom) 47pts8 Toni
Gardemeister (Finland) 35pts9 Bruno Magalhaes (Portugal) 26pts10 Hans
Weijs (Netherlands) 18pts etc
Manufacturers after round nine of 111 SKODA 285pts2 Peugeot
223pts3 M-Sport 80pts4 Ralliart 73pts5 Subaru 66pts6 PROTON 41pts7
Honda 31pts8 Abarth 15pts
IRC Production Cup after round nine of 111 Florian Gonon
(Switzerland) 75pts2 Gyorgy Aschenbrenner (Hungary) 25pts= Jose Luis
Barrios (Spain) 25pts= Jonas Langenakens (Belgium) 25pts= Ricardo
Moura (Portugal) 25pts= Jaroslav Orsak (Czech Republic) 25pts=
Volodymyr Pechenyk (Ukraine) 25pts8 Toshi Arai (Japan) 24pts= Vojtech
Stajf (Czech Republic) 24pts10 Eamonn Boland (Ireland) 23pts etc
IRC 2WD Cup drivers after round nine of 111 Stefano Albertini (Italy)
83pts2 Jean-Michel Raoux (France) 70pts3 Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi
(France) 40pts4 Pierre Campana (France) 25pts= Paulo Maciel (Portugal)
25pts= Davide Medici (Italy) 25pts= Kris Princen (Belgium) 25pts=
Janos Puskadi (Hungary) 25pts= Joan Vinyes (Spain) 25pts10 Eric
Mauffrey (France) 22pts etc
IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round nine of 111 Honda 201pts2
Peugeot 149pts3 M-Sport 116pts4 Abarth 85pts5 SKODA 73pts
SS1-6: Andreas MikkelsenSS7: Freddy LoixSS8-9: Andreas MikkelsenSS10:
Freddy LoixSS11: Andreas MikkelsenSS12-13: Thierry Neuville
Day one (Friday 23 September):SS1: Coldirodi 1 (13.06kms): Andreas
MikkelsenSS2: Bajardo (7.36kms): Freddy LoixSS3: Bignone 1 (10.59kms):
Freddy LoixSS4: Coldirodi 1 (13.06kms): Andreas MikkelsenSS5: Apricale
(17.43kms): Andreas MikkelsenSS6: Bignone 2 (10.59kms): Thierry
Neuville and Andreas MikkelsenSS7: Ronde (44.00kms): Freddy Loix
Day two (Saturday 24 September):SS8: Colle Langan 1 (20.57kms):
Thierry NeuvilleSS9: Passo Teglia 1 (18.80kms): Thierry NeuvilleSS10:
Colle d’Oggia 1 (15.47kms): Freddy LoixSS11: Colle Langan 2
(20.57kms): Stage cancelled due to Freddy Loix’s accidentSS12:
Passo Teglia 2 (18.80kms): Thierry NeuvilleSS13: Colle d’Oggia 2
(15.47kms): Thierry Neuville
IRC rally wins in 2011 (drivers)Juho Hanninen: 3Jan Kopecky: 2Thierry
Neuville: 2Bryan Bouffier: 1Freddy Loix: 1
IRC rally wins in 2011 (manufacturers)SKODA: 6Peugeot: 3 
IRC stage wins in 2011 (drivers)Andreas Mikkelsen: 26Thierry
Neuville: 21Jan Kopecky: 19Freddy Loix: 18Juho Hanninen: 17Guy Wilks:
8Bryan Bouffier: 8Stephane Sarrazin: 4Giandomenico Basso: 1Francois
Delecour: 1Bruno Magalhaes: 1Patrik Sandell: 1Nicolas Vouilloz: 1
Stage wins in 2011 (manufacturers)SKODA: 82Peugeot: 43
Eurosport, the Intercontinental Rally Challenge’s media partner
and Europe’s leading sports entertainment group, will show
coverage of Rallye Sanremo as follows:
Saturday 24 September:22:30hrs-23:00hrs: Day one highlights repeated
(Eurosport Asia-Pacific)23:00hrs-23:30hrs: Day two highlights
(Eurosport, Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Sunday 25 September:06:30hrs-07:00hrs: Day two highlights repeated
(Eurosport Asia-Pacific)23:00hrs-23:30hrs: Rally Review (Eurosport)
Monday 26 September:03:15hrs-03:45hrs: Rally Review repeated
(Eurosport Asia-Pacific)13:00hrs-13:30hrs: Rally Review repeated
(Eurosport 2)
Tuesday 27 September:15:30hrs-16:00hrs: Rally Review repeated
(Eurosport Asia-Pacific)25:45hrs-26:15hrs: Rally Review repeated
(Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Wednesday 28 September:08:00hrs-08:30hrs: Rally Review repeated
(Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Daily highlights will also be shown on the Eurosport Player at, at and via the IRC iPhone
and iPad App. All times are CET.

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