•SKODA UK driver becomes youngest IRC champion•Arai wins
IRC Production Cup, IRC 2WD Cup joy for Raoux
Andreas Mikkelsen has become the youngest driver to win the
Intercontinental Rally Challenge after claiming victory on the
season-closing Cyprus Rally. Amid emotional scenes captured live on
Eurosport, Mikkeslen secured the title by one and a half points from
Jan Kopecky, sealing glory by going fastest on the final stage
alongside co-driver Ola Floene.
Japan’s Toshi Arai won the inaugural IRC Production Cup in his
R4-specification Subaru Impreza STI with Jean-Michel Raoux, from
France, clinching the IRC 2WD Cup by a single point ahead of Italian
Stefano Albertini.
Mikkelsen, driving a SKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 led for all
but one stage of the mixed-surface event based in Pafos in the
south-west of the Mediterranean island. One of five drivers in
contention for the coveted IRC title at the start of the rally,
Mikkelsen had to win the event in order to become champion.
Apart from a spin on Friday and a puncture on Saturday morning,
little troubled the Norwegian who becomes the fifth different IRC
champion in as many years. Mikkelsen, who switched to rallying as a
17-year-old when injury curtailed his promising skiing career, was
almost forced to stop competing when he ran out of funding prior to
the 2009 season.
He hit back by securing a drive with SKODA’s UK importer for
the 2011 season after impressing in the IRC in 2010 in a privateer
M-Sport Ford Fiesta. Despite a troubled start on Rallye Monte-Carlo,
when he crashed on the opening stage, he slowly improved his form and
came close to winning several rallies before taking his maiden win on
the penultimate round in Scotland last month to set up a title
challenge in Cyprus. As well as winning two rounds outright, Mikkelsen
scored more stage wins than any other driver with a total of 38
fastest times during the year.
Nasser Al-Attiyah, last season’s Cyprus Rally winner, had
started the final day with an outside chance of victory and went
fastest of all on Saturday’s third stage. However, an engine
failure meant he was unable to continue after midday service, handing
second place to factory SKODA driver Kopecky, who has been runner-up
in the IRC standings for the last three seasons.
“There was damage in the engine, which is a big
disappointment,” said Al-Attiyah. “It was fantastic before
and I was really so happy with my performance against all these great
IRC drivers and live on Eurosport. But what can we do?”
Patrik Sandell took third with his best finish of the season for
SKODA Sweden claiming a stage victory to boot. Estonian teenager Karl
Kruuda, in a privateer Fabia, impressed in fourth, snatching the
position from Freddy Loix when the Belgian’s BFO-backed Fabia
developed a mechanical fault on the penultimate stage.
Matthias Kahle completed an all-Fabia top six in his SKODA Auto
Deutschland Fabia after a solid display on his first visit to Cyprus.
And it got better for the German importer when Kahle’s team-mate
Mark Wallenwein battled back from his double puncture on Friday to
finish eighth, one place behind IRC Production Cup winner Toshi Arai.
With IRC 2WD Cup champion Jean-Michel Raoux not eligible for overall
IRC drivers’ points in ninth, ex-circuit racer Doros Loucaides
clinched the four points on offer for the place in his
Petrolina-backed Peugeot 207 S2000, which he was using in competition
for the first time on the back of a 50-kilometre pre-event test.
Charalambos Timotheau claimed the final points in his Ralliart
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX after mechanical problems halted fellow
Cypriot Nicos Thomas on the final afternoon.
Outgoing IRC champion Juho Hanninen restarted on day two under
SupeRally regulations following his crash on Friday’s opening
run. Despite winning a stage he had to settle for 16th overall, one
place ahead of leading female driver Burcu Cetinkaya.
Mikkelsen’s performance earned him the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out
Trophy, awarded on each round of the IRC to the driver whose
performance best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend who won
the Cyprus Rally 10 years ago in 2001.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway), SKODA Fabia S2000, first overall:
“To become IRC champion is such a fantastic feeling, the likes
of which I have never felt before. It’s been a tough season,
which didn’t start so well in Monte Carlo but which has just
kept getting better and better. We’ve had a fantastic second
half of the year and wow, to finish with a win in Cyprus and the IRC
drivers’ title, I can hardly believe it has happened. It’s
like a dream.
“I’d really like to thank everyone at SKODA UK Motorsport
and SKODA Motorsport for and giving me this opportunity this year.
It’s a special moment for everyone. So much effort has been put
in over the last five years of my rallying career, not just by me, but
the people around me. To give this title back to everyone who has been
involved is incredible.”
Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic), SKODA Fabia S2000, second overall:
“I have to say this rally was quite tricky for us coming from a
country with no gravel stages. We have done our best this year and not
made any mistakes but finally we are second. I am disappointed but
that’s it although I have to say thanks to SKODA for a great job
all season.”
Patrik Sandell (Sweden), SKODA Fabia S2000, third overall:
“It’s a really good way to finish what has been a tough
and sometimes frustrating year. When things work well we can set top
times as we have proved this weekend.”
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Floene (NOR) SKODA Fabia S2000
2h25m18.5s2 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) SKODA Fabia S2000
+1m40.5s3 Patrik Sandell (SWE)/Staffan Parmander (SWE) SKODA Fabia
S2000 +2m54.8s4 Karl Kruuda (EST)/Martin Jarveoja (EST) SKODA Fabia
S2000 +4m33.0s5 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) SKODA Fabia
S2000 +5m25.4s6 Matthias Kahle (GER)/Peter Gobel (GER) SKODA Fabia
S2000 +7m48.9s7 Toshi Arai (JPN)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Subaru Impreza R4
STI +8m16.2s8 Mark Wallenwein (GER)/Stefan Kopczyk (GER) SKODA Fabia
S2000 +13m06.7s9 Doros Loucaides (CYP)/Savvas Laos (CYP) Peugeot 207
S2000 +15m07.8s10 Charalambos Timotheou (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP)
Ralliart Lancer Evo IX +15m25.7s
IRC Production Cup: Toshi Arai (JPN)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Subaru
Impreza R4 STIIRC 2WD Cup: Jean-Michel Raoux (FRA)/Laurent Magat (FRA)
Renault Clio R3
Drivers after round 11 of 111 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) 153.5pts2
Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) 152pts3 Juho Hanninen (Finland) 125pts4
Freddy Loix (Belgium) 123pts5 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) 115pts6 Bryan
Bouffier (France) 110.5pts7 Guy Wilks (United Kingdom) 47pts8 Patrik
Sandell (Sweden) 44pts9 Toni Gardemeister (Finland) 43pts10 Karl
Kruuda (Estonia) 39pts
Manufacturers after round 11 of 111 SKODA 362.5pts2 Peugeot
241.5pts3 Subaru 117pts4 M-Sport 107pts5 Ralliart 104pts6 Honda 46pts7
PROTON 41pts8 Abarth 15pts
IRC Production Cup after round 11 of 111 Toshi Arai (Japan) 111.5pts2
Florian Gonon (Switzerland) 75pts3 Marco Cavigioli (Italy) 37pts4
Charalambos Timotheau (Cyprus) 36pts5 Fumio Nutahara (Japan) 32.5pts6
Savvas Savva (Cyprus) 30pts7 Volodymyr Pechenyk (Ukraine) 27pts= Jason
Pritchard (United Kingdom) 27pts9 Gyorgy Aschenbrenner (Hungary)
25pts= Jose Luis Barrios (Spain) 25pts= Jonas Langenakens (Belgium)
25pts= Ricardo Moura (Portugal) 25pts= Jaroslav Orsak (Czech Republic)
IRC 2WD Cup drivers after round 11 of 111 Jean-Michel Raoux (France)
120pts2 Stefano Albertini (Italy) 119pts3 Janos Puskadi (Hungary)
71.5pts4 Martin Kangur (Estonia) 53.5pts5 Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi
(France) 40pts6 Andreas Charalambous (Cyprus) 30pts7 John MacCrone
(United Kingdom) 27pts8 Pierre Campana (France) 25pts= Paulo Maciel
(Portugal) 25pts= Davide Medici (Italy) 25pts= Kris Princen (Belgium)
25pts= Joan Vinyes (Spain) 25pts
IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round 11 of 111 Honda 320pts2 M-Sport
161pts3 Peugeot 149pts4 Abarth 85pts5 SKODA 73pts
* All points are provisional and subject to final confirmation
SS1-2: Andreas MikkelsenSS3: Thierry NeuvilleSS4-11: Andreas
Day one (Thursday 3 and Friday 4 November):SS1: LTV Super Special
Stage (3.20kms, 100% asphalt): Andreas MikkelsenSS2: Koilinia 1
(24:15kms, 35.5% asphalt, 64.5% gravel): Andreas MikkelsenSS3:
Salamiou 1 (18.16kms, 64.2% asphalt, 35.8% gravel): Thierry
NeuvilleSS4: Koilinia 2 (24:15kms, 35.5% asphalt, 64.5% gravel):
Andreas MikkelsenSS5: Salamiou 2 (18.16kms, 64.2% asphalt, 35.8%
gravel): Andreas Mikkelsen 
Day two (Saturday 5 November):SS6: Gialia 1 (14.82kms, 100% gravel):
Andreas MikkelsenSS7: Stavros 1 (15.91kms, 100% asphalt): Andreas
MikkelsenSS8: Anadiou 1 (19.15kms, 40.0% asphalt, 60.0% gravel):
Nasser Al-AttiyahSS9: Gialia 2 (14.82kms, 100% gravel): Juho
HanninenSS10: Stavros 2 (15.91kms, 100% asphalt): Patrik SandellSS11:
Anadiou 2 (19.15kms, 40.0% asphalt, 60.0% gravel): Andreas Mikkelsen
IRC rally wins in 2011 (drivers)Juho Hanninen: 3Jan Kopecky: 2Andreas
Mikkelsen: 2Thierry Neuville: 2Bryan Bouffier: 1Freddy Loix: 1
IRC rally wins in 2011 (manufacturers)SKODA: 8Peugeot: 3
IRC stage wins in 2011 (drivers)Andreas Mikkelsen: 38Thierry
Neuville: 24Juho Hanninen: 21Jan Kopecky: 19Freddy Loix: 18Guy Wilks:
10Bryan Bouffier: 9Stephane Sarrazin: 4Patrik Sandell: 3Nasser
Al-Attiyah: 1Giandomenico Basso: 1Francois Delecour: 1Bruno Magalhaes:
1Nicolas Vouilloz: 1
Stage wins in 2011 (manufacturers)SKODA: 100Peugeot: 41M-Sport: 1
IRC championsAndreas Mikkelsen’s capture of the
Intercontinental Rally Challenge title means he becomes the
IRC’s fifth different champion in as many years and joins the
illustrious list of winners:
2011: Andreas Mikkelsen (SKODA Fabia S2000)2010: Juho Hanninen (SKODA
Fabia S2000)2009: Kris Meeke (Peugeot 207 S2000)2008: Nicolas Vouilloz
(Peugeot 207 S2000)2007: Enrique Garcia Ojeda (Peugeot 207 S2000)
Eurosport, the Intercontinental Rally Challenge’s media partner
and Europe’s leading sports entertainment group, will show a
Cyprus Rally review programme from 22:15hrs-22:45hrs on Sunday 6
November. This will be repeated on Eurosport 2 on Tuesday 8 November
from 13:30hrs-14:00hrs. All times are CET.
Daily highlights will also be shown on the Eurosport Player at
www.eurosportplayer.com at www.rally-irc.com and via the IRC iPhone
and iPad App. All times are CET.

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