Hanninen takes first asphalt victory
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, April 16th 2011, 12:14 GMT|
Juho 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