Juho Hanninen ahead in Rally Azores tussle with Andreas Mikkelsen
Juho Hanninen has moved back into the Rally Azores lead with two stages to go, after briefly losing his first position to Andreas Mikkelsen
Amid further rain and fog on the island, factory Skoda driver Hanninen fell to second on SS13 when he missed a junction and found himself 2.7 seconds behind Mikkelsen (Skoda UK) in the overall classification.
But Hanninen responded in style on the next stage, with a time 13.9s quicker than anyone else. Although Mikkelsen then won the following superspecial, Hanninen's lead was back up to 10.9s.
Bruno Magalhaes lost third when a transmission problem forced him to park his Peugeot before SS14. That means Jan Kopecky's Skoda now looks to have the final podium place in the bag.
Leading positions after SS15:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Juho Hanninen Skoda 1h44m09.9s 2. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 10.9s 3. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 1m19.9s 4. Bryan Bouffier ROMO Peugeot + 3m13.7s 5. Patrik Sandell Skoda Sweden + 4m24.8s 6. Ricardo Moura Mitsubishi (private) + 4m46.4s 7. Vitor Lopes Subaru (private) + 7m29.3s 8. Vitor Pascoal Mitsubishi (private) + 9m04.0s 9. Sergio Silva Subaru (private) + 10m23.3s 10. Paulo Maciel Citroen (private) + 13m29.3s
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