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ERC NEWS 

Hanninen takes first asphalt victory

Juho Hanninen wins in CanariasJuho Hanninen claimed his first win on asphalt in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with a brilliant final day surge on Rally Islas Canarias.

The reigning series champion beat his Skoda team-mate Jan Kopecky by just 1.5 seconds, while Thierry Neuville took his second IRC podium with a very close third in the Kronos-run Belgium Luxembourg Peugeot.

Kopecky had stayed just ahead of a very close lead pack through Friday's first leg, but Hanninen stepped up his pace this morning and grabbed the lead.

He edged out a three-second cushion over Kopecky going into the deciding Artenara stage, and held on to win by 1.5s despite his Czech team-mate doing his best to fight back.

Neuville repeated his third place from Ypres last year, but the former Junior WRC rally winner was far closer to the lead pace in this event than ever before in his IRC career. He led briefly this morning and was only 8.2s behind Hanninen at the end.

Freddy Loix could not quite stay with the leaders until the end, and finished fourth in the third works-run Skoda.

Guy Wilks (Peugeot UK) came out on top of a rally-long battle with Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda UK) and Bryan Bouffier (Peugeot France) to take fifth place. Bruno Magalhaes was a lonely eighth for Peugeot Portugal.

Proton had an encouraging run, with both its cars reaching the finish. Giandomenico Basso held off Toni Gardemeister's Hankook-shod TGS Skoda for ninth, while P-G Andersson was delayed by two Friday punctures, which left him 15th.

Leading finishers after SS12:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                Time/Gap
 1.  Juho Hanninen       Skoda                 1h40m38.1s
 2.  Jan Kopecky         Skoda                     + 1.5s
 3.  Thierry Neuville    Kronos/Peugeot Belux      + 8.2s
 4.  Freddy Loix         BFO Skoda                + 16.7s
 5.  Guy Wilks           Kronos/Peugeot UK        + 48.3s
 6.  Andreas Mikkelsen   Skoda UK                 + 55.6s
 7.  Bryan Bouffier      PH/Peugeot France      + 1m00.6s
 8.  Bruno Magalhaes     Peugeot Portugal       + 1m49.8s
 9.  Giandomenico Basso  Proton                 + 2m37.8s
10.  Toni Gardemeister   TGS Skoda              + 2m38.2s
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