Andreas Mikkelsen holds small Rally San Marino lead at end of day one
Andreas Mikkelsen leads Rally San Marino at the end of day one of the event's debut in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, but only by a narrow margin
This was expected to be a relatively straightforward event for Mikkelsen in the absence of the other Skoda factory drivers, yet he found himself back in third at first, behind fellow Fabia men Sepp Wiegand and Umberto Scandola.
Wiegand (Skoda Deutschland) was impressing greatly in only his third start on gravel, and stayed ahead until SS3. The German then had a spin on the next stage and was back in fourth, 34 seconds off the lead, by the end of the evening street stage that rounded the day off.
Ford driver Giandomenico Basso recovered from a stage one spin to become Mikkelsen's main rival, and is only 4.1s behind the reigning champion going into day two.
Scandola is 9.6s down in third place, despite having been hampered by a power-reducing engine issue all day.
Likely frontunner Patrik Flodin was forced to retire his Petter Solberg Engineering Ford due to a water leak after just one stage.
Leading positions after SS5:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 1h17m08.1s 2. Giandomenico Basso Movisport Ford + 4.1s 3. Umberto Scandola Car Skoda + 9.6s 4. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Deutschland + 34.0s 5. Jarkko Nikara Makinen Subaru + 1m29.7s 6. Juha Salo SM Ford + 1m41.6s 7. Laurent Reche Lugano Peugeot + 1m51.5s 8. Maurizio Angrisani Vomero Mitsubishi + 3m48.5s 9. Marco Tempestini Tempestini Subaru + 4m07.8s 10. Gergely Szabo Szabo Mitsubishi + 4m21.9s
The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season