Andreas Mikkelsen leads after day one of Targa Florio
Intercontinental Rally Challenge points leader Andreas Mikkelsen holds a narrow lead over Jan Kopecky after day one of the Targa Florio
Skoda UK driver Mikkelsen was quickest on five of Friday's stages, but his margins over his nearest rivals were always slender.
Kopecky's works Skoda interrupted Mikkelsen's run of stage wins on SS6, and heads into the final day within 4.5 seconds of the lead.
Giandomenico Basso was also very close to Mikkelsen's pace for much of the day, although the Ford driver felt an early choice of soft tyres was costly. The Italian is 13.2s adrift of Mikkelsen in third.
Locals Umberto Scandola and Paolo Andreucci complete the current top five, with sixth-placed Craig Breen also ruing running soft tyres in the morning.
Leading positions after SS7:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 53m23.5s 2. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 4.5s 3. Giandomenico Basso A-Style Ford + 13.2s 4. Umberto Scandola SA Skoda + 23.6s 5. Paolo Andreucci FPF Peugeot + 34.8s 6. Craig Breen HRT Peugeot + 52.8s 7. Matteo Gamba Balbosca Peugeot + 53.6s 8. Sepp Weigand Skoda Deutschland + 1m07.9s 9. Alessandro Perico United Peugeot + 1m17.5s 10. Marco Runfola Peugeot + 1m36.9s
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