Juho Hanninen pulls away from rivals in Rally Azores
Juho Hanninen is edging away from the field in increasingly difficult conditions on Rally Azores
While the middle test of this morning's opening three-stage loop was cancelled due to livestock in the road, SS4 brought rain and SS6 thick fog and mud.
Skoda driver Hanninen was quickest on both stages, putting him into a 9.7-second lead over Skoda UK's Andreas Mikkelsen, who has moved back past Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) for second after resolving yesterday's power steering issue.
Magalhaes is now third, just 1.2s ahead of the second factory Skoda of Jan Kopecky.
The rest of the field has fallen away from the lead group. Guy Wilks had hoped that dropping positions last night to get a better position in the running order today would be beneficial, but this morning's rain spoiled that plan, and in any case he stopped and retired on SS6.
Leading positions after SS6:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Juho Hanninen Skoda 36m33.9s 2. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 9.7s 3. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 21.0s 4. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 22.2s 5. Patrik Sandell Skoda Sweden + 1m18.8s 6. Ricardo Moura Mitsubishi (private) + 1m29.5s 7. Bryan Bouffier ROMO Peugeot + 1m30.5s 8. Vitor Lopes Subaru (private) + 2m21.2s 9. Vitor Pascoal Mitsubishi (private) + 3m16.7s 10. Pedro Vale Mitsubishi (private) + 3m24.2s
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