A magnificent performance on the RACMSA Rally of Scotland has given ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 driver Andreas Mikkelsen his maiden victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and given ŠKODA a hat-trick of wins on the event. At 22-years and 109 days old, Andreas becomes the youngest winner of an IRC event.
With Juho Hänninen (ŠKODA Motorsport) finishing 2nd, ŠKODA has retained its IRC title and become 2011 IRC Manufacturers’ Champions, while six drivers – four of them ŠKODA drivers, including Andreas – are still in contention for the drivers’ title with one round remaining.
Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreas held 5th position after a calculated run through Friday’s opening two stages in a dark and slippery Carron Valley.
A magnificent display of driving skill on Saturday through the treacherously wet and slippery Perthshire stages of Craigvinean, Drummond Hill and Errochty saw the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy pilot set a total of four fastest times in five stages, to turn a 7.4 second morning deficit into a healthy 50.7 second lead by the end of the day.
Back in Stirlingshire for Sunday’s final day of competition, early morning rain had left the narrow gravel forest roads of Carron Valley, Loch Chon and High Corrie extremely muddy. Aiming to control the pace from the front, Andreas was focused on maintaining position and arriving at the finish in first position. With his pace reduced, Andreas drove faultlessly – although it was impossible to avoid all the rocks in the middle of the road, which resulted in the leader picking up a puncture during both runs through High Corrie (a rear right puncture 3.7 miles (6kms) from the end of SS11 and a right front puncture 1.8 miles (3kms) from the end of SS13).
All that separated Andreas from his first IRC victory were two runs over the 1.76 mile (2.84km) Scone Palace stage. Entering them with a 30.4 second advantage, Andreas completed a memorable event without incident to secure a magnificent Rally of Scotland win by 26.4 seconds.
Andreas: “What a fantastic weekend! We were so close to winning in Hungary and even closer in Sanremo, but we could not have found a better place to score our first IRC win than on ŠKODA UK’s home event in Scotland. The feeling is just amazing and this result gives us something to really build on.
“I really enjoyed driving on these Scottish roads last year, but twelve months ago it was dry and this year the conditions have been so different. The stages this time were wet, muddy and very tricky. It was easy to make a mistake, and I am very pleased to have gone as quickly as we have done this weekend. I’m very proud of what the ŠKODA UK Motorsport team, Ola and myself have accomplished here.
“Crossing the finish line of the last stage in Scotland was the best feeling I’ve ever had in a rally car. I’m really happy.”
The final round of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge is the Cyprus Rally (03-05 November).
Rally of Scotland results
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….1hr 55mins 17.2secs
2. Juho Hänninen/Mikko Markkula (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+26.4secs
3. Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Peugeot 207 S2000)….+1min 35.3secs
4. Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000)….+2mins 05.1secs
5. Jan Kopecký/Petr Starý (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+2mins 11.7secs
6. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Peugeot 207 S2000)….+3mins 10.4sec
7. Toni Gardemeister/Tapio Suominen (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+3mins 11.5secs
8. Alastair Fisher/Daniel Barritt (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000)….+4mins 59.9secs
9. Toshi Arai/Dale Moscatt (Subaru Impreza)….+8mins 17.6secs
10 Matthias Kahle/Peter Gobel (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+9mins 36.1secs
IRC points (after Round 10)
1. JanKopecký ….131pts
2. Juho Hänninen….125pts
3. Thierry Neuville….115pts
4. Andreas Mikkelsen….111.5pts
5. Bryan Bouffier….110.5pts
6. Freddy Loix….103pts
7. Guy Wilks….47pts