IRC Cyprus: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins on IRC swansong event
Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed victory in the final Intercontinental Rally Challenge event as champion Andreas Mikkelsen's gallant Cyprus Rally charge came unstuck
Mikkelsen had lost two minutes with a puncture and suspension damage on Saturday morning, but still did not give up on victory.
The Skoda UK driver reduced Al-Attiyah's lead to 1m30s by the end of leg one, despite a second puncture, and then relaunched his chase on Sunday morning.
A hat-trick of stage wins on the first loop brought Mikkelsen to within 49s of Al-Attiyah, who was losing time running first on the road, with three stages to go. But yet another puncture on the first stage after service cost Mikkelsen a further two minutes.
That left Autotek Ford driver Al-Attiyah free to repeat his 2010 Cyprus win by a commanding margin.
Mikkelsen had the ample consolation of officially claiming a second straight IRC title - a result guaranteed from the outset as remaining rivals Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen were not entered for the decider.
He celebrated by allowing co-driver Ola Floene, set to retire after the event, to take the wheel for the final stage of the rally and the series.
Tommi Makinen Subaru duo Toshi Arai and Jarkko Nikara were third and fourth, despite multiple dramas for both on the rough surface.
Sepp Wiegand rejoined following his Saturday problems and finished fifth.
Robert Consani arrived in Cyprus leading both the Production and 2WD Cups after a dual-campaign.
Early clutch failure meant Consani lost the latter title to Harry Hunt, but he still became the final IRC Production champion.
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