Andreas Mikkelsen on brink of maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge win in Scotland
|Sunday, October 9th 2011, 13:35 GMT|
Andreas Mikkelsen is on course for his maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge victory with just two short stages to go, despite a scare when he picked up another puncture on High Corrie.
The Skoda UK driver's lead had been reduced to 28 seconds over Juho Hanninen when a puncture cost him time on the earlier run through High Corrie.
Mikkelsen dissuaded Hanninen from pushing for the victory by winning this afternoon's opening Loch Chon stage by a full 8.4s. That meant even with his puncture on the next stage, Mikkelsen still heads to Scone Palace with a 30.4s advantage.
"I had a big puncture three kilometres from the finish and it was such a big hit I was afraid the whole steering was gone," said Mikkelsen, who will check the car at the service before the final stages. "We lost time but we didn't lose too much."
Bryan Bouffier had a scare with brake problems on SS12 and then picked up a 10s penalty for being late into SS13 while attending to them. His third place for Peugeot France remains safe, though.
Fourth-placed Craig Breen pinpointed his earlier issue as a cracked exhaust manifold on his Ford, and despite a differential worry on High Corrie, he continues to resist championship leader Jan Kopecky's Skoda.
Jarkko Nikara had got up to sixth in the top Production car, but lost two places with a puncture on Loch Chon then crashed out on High Corrie.
That allowed Toni Gardemeister into the top six, though the TGS Worldwide Skoda is only 3.4s ahead of the recovering Thierry Neuville (Kronos/Peugeot Belux).
Leading positions after SS13: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 1h51m12.4s 2. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 30.4s 3. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 1m34.4s 4. Craig Breen Kel-Tech Ford + 2m00.5s 5. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 2m13.5s 6. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 3m14.7s 7. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 3m18.1s 8. Alastair Fisher M-Sport Ford + 5m02.9s 9. Guy Wilks Kronos/Peugeot UK + 6m54.3s 10. Toshi Arai Arai Subaru + 8m14.6s