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ERC NEWS 

Juho Hanninen pulls away from rivals in Rally Azores

Juho Hanninen, Skoda, Azores 2011Juho Hanninen is edging away from the field in increasingly difficult conditions on Rally Azores.

While the middle test of this morning's opening three-stage loop was cancelled due to livestock in the road, SS4 brought rain and SS6 thick fog and mud.

Skoda driver Hanninen was quickest on both stages, putting him into a 9.7-second lead over Skoda UK's Andreas Mikkelsen, who has moved back past Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) for second after resolving yesterday's power steering issue.

Magalhaes is now third, just 1.2s ahead of the second factory Skoda of Jan Kopecky.

The rest of the field has fallen away from the lead group. Guy Wilks had hoped that dropping positions last night to get a better position in the running order today would be beneficial, but this morning's rain spoiled that plan, and in any case he stopped and retired on SS6.

Leading positions after SS6:

Pos  Driver             Team/Car               Time/Gap
 1.  Juho Hanninen      Skoda                  36m33.9s
 2.  Andreas Mikkelsen  Skoda UK                 + 9.7s
 3.  Bruno Magalhaes    Peugeot Portugal        + 21.0s
 4.  Jan Kopecky        Skoda                   + 22.2s
 5.  Patrik Sandell     Skoda Sweden          + 1m18.8s
 6.  Ricardo Moura      Mitsubishi (private)  + 1m29.5s
 7.  Bryan Bouffier     ROMO Peugeot          + 1m30.5s
 8.  Vitor Lopes        Subaru (private)      + 2m21.2s
 9.  Vitor Pascoal      Mitsubishi (private)  + 3m16.7s
10.  Pedro Vale         Mitsubishi (private)  + 3m24.2s
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