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Juho Hanninen claims dominant Ypres win

Juho Hanninen, Skoda, Ypres 2012Juho Hanninen became only the second ever Finnish winner of the Ypres Rally with a dominant performance on his return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The 2010 series champion is only contesting a limited IRC schedule this year, but added a second win of the season to his Circuit of Ireland triumph.

Skoda driver Hanninen was able to dominate most of the event. Seven-time Ypres winner Freddy Loix closed in when Hanninen made a few mistakes in the middle of Saturday's epic 12-stage, 12-hour itinerary, but the Finn had enough speed in hand to pull away again and beat fellow IRC returnee Loix's 2C Peugeot to victory by 46.5 seconds.

Points leader and reigning champion Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda UK) had dropped back from Hanninen when he lost a minute in a ditch on Friday night, and then had to retire with damage from another trip off the road early on Saturday.

Local Skoda driver Pieter Tsjoen completed the podium, with Belgian legend Patrick Snijers fourth in the full results in a Mini but not registered for the IRC.

That meant the 'official' fourth place went to Michal Solowow, who resisted a fightback from Patrik Flodin. The former Production World Rally Championship frontrunner was making a belated start to his IRC programme in a Petter Solberg Engineering-run Ford after breaking his collarbone in a training accident two months ago, and finished fifth despite losing several minutes with a broken driveshaft on Saturday morning.

Leading finishers after SS18:

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time/Gap
 1.  Juho Hanninen      Skoda               2h36m52.7s
 2.  Freddy Loix        2C Peugeot             + 46.5s
 3.  Pieter Tsjoen      Wevers Skoda         + 2m14.6s
 4.  Michal Solowow     Cersanit Peugeot     + 5m25.4s
 5.  Patrik Flodin      Solberg Ford         + 5m55.5s
 6.  Mathias Viaene     Atlantic Peugeot     + 9m37.8s
 7.  Jonas Langenakens  Atlantic Peugeot     + 9m55.6s
 8.  Andreas Aigner     Stohl Subaru        + 10m27.1s
 9.  Antonin Tlustak    Tlustak Skoda       + 10m38.9s
10.  Bob Colsoul        Colsoul Mitsubishi  + 12m24.3s
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Hanninen leads, Mikkelsen goes off