Andreas Mikkelsen takes dominant win in Sibiu Rally in Romania
Andreas Mikkelsen finally secured his second victory of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season with an utterly dominant performance on the Sibiu Rally in Romania
Predictions that the event would be the IRC's equivalent of the Acropolis and jokes that 'Dakar set-ups' would be required proved close to the mark, with the rally proving extremely punishing.
Mikkelsen was not only fastest, but also had the smoothest run. A nerve-wracking fuel pump change in Friday evening's service and a puncture on Saturday morning were the only worries as he won by nearly six minutes for Skoda UK.
Every other frontrunner had myriad dramas, either with car damage, poor visibility in Friday afternoon's dust clouds, or both.
Sepp Wiegand looked to be on course for second until a suspension breakage on Saturday morning denied the young German what would have been his first podium at international level.
That meant Patrik Flodin came through to second despite a broken wheel dropping him to last on stage two. It was a maiden IRC podium for both the former Production World Rally Championship frontrunner and his Petter Solberg-run team.
WRC legend Francois Delecour completed the podium, despite suspension problems on his Munaretto Peugeot costing him a lot of time on both Saturday loops.
Leading finishers after SS12:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 2h13m47.4s 2. Patrik Flodin Solberg Ford + 5m32.9s 3. Francois Delecour Munaretto Peugeot + 11m52.2s 4. Vitaliy Pushkar Ukrane Mitsubishi + 13m46.5s 5. Edwin Keleti Mitsubishi + 14m40.9s 6. Robert Consani Renault + 17m12.4s 7. Valentin Porcisteanu Mitsubishi + 18m00.6s 8. Harry Hunt i-Cars Citroen + 18m16.6s 9. Vlad Cosma Citroen + 20m42.3s 10. Asja Zupanc Mitsubishi + 21m03.3s
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