ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen has recorded the biggest winning margin in the history of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, when he and co-driver Ola Fløene scored a 5min 33.8sec victory on the Sibiu Rally Romania in their factory-prepared Fabia S2000.
It was also the 25th IRC win for ŠKODA, making it the most successful manufacturer in the series.
Andreas dominated the rock-strewn gravel event, with a mix of rough-terrain technical set-up (the Fabia S2000 was running on its maximum ride height) and no-risk driving strategy paying dividends. His second win (following Rally Azores) and sixth podium of the season gives Andreas a 49 point lead in the IRC Drivers’ category, while ŠKODA inches closer to its third consecutive Manufacturers’ title.
Andreas set fastest time on all seven of Leg 1’s stages, turning the normal disadvantage of running first on the road to his benefit in the dusty conditions. As all his main rivals hit either technical problems, suffered punctures or were slowed in dust, a controlled and faultless performance saw Andreas open up a 2min 44.1sec lead at the overnight halt.
Leg 2 was even hotter and rougher, with two very long stages (repeated) held in mid-30ºC temperatures in the beautiful central Transylvanian region of Romania, followed by a closing superspecial stage.
ŠKODA looked on course for a 1-2 finish, until Sepp Wiegand hit a rock on SS10 and had to retire his ŠKODA Deutschland Fabia S2000 from 2nd place with broken right rear suspension. Andreas hit the same rock, but was able to reach the finish of the stage with a front right flat tyre – his only minor problem of the entire event.
In the end, Andreas set the fastest time on 10 of the events 12 stages, and led from start to finish.
“We won with a good margin, but it was a very tough event and it’s been a long weekend. The roads were very rough and for us it was a case of taking no risks and driving to avoid all the big rocks.
“This victory is a fantastic feeling for the whole ŠKODA UK Motorsport team, and if it wasn’t for their great work I wouldn’t be here at the end of such a tough event. We’ve been so close in the last rounds with a lot of second places, so it’s great to be back on the top step of the podium.”
The next round of the IRC is the Barum Czech Rally Zlín (August 31-2 September)
Final positions (provisional top 6 after SS12)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….2hrs 15mins 28.0secs
2. Patrik Flodin/Goran Bergsten (Ford Fiesta S2000)….+5mins 33.8secs
3. Francois Delecour/Dominique Savignoni (Peugeot 207 S2000)….+11mins 56.9secs
4. Vitaliy Pushkar/Ivan Mishyn (Mitsubishi)….+13mins 57.2secs
5. Edwin Keleti/Botond Csomortani (Mitsubishi)….+14mins 45.6secs
6. Robert Consani/Cédric (Renault Clio)….+17mins 26.7secs
7. Valentin Porcisteanu/Dan Dobre (Mitsubishi)…+18mins 04.6secs
8. Harry Hunt/Robbie Durant (Citroën DS3)….+18mins 46.6secs
9. Vlad Cosma/Florin Dorca (Citroën C2)….+20mins 56.3secs
10. Asja Zupanc/Spela Trcek (Mitsubishi)….+21mins 14.0secs
IRC points (provisional after Round 8)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen….132pts
2. Jan Kopecký…83pts
3. Juho Hänninen….68pts
4. Sepp Wiegand….52pts
5. Giandomenico Basso….40pts
6. Patrik Flodin….28pts