Andreas Mikkelsen brought a frustrating season to a happy end by taking a comfortable victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge's non-championship Golden Stage event in Cyprus
The shoot-out over two runs of a 25-kilometre mixed-surface stage carried a total prize fund of 150,000 euros and was televised live.
Having switched from his usual Hankook tyres to Pirellis for the event, Ford driver Mikkelsen set a stunning pace on the first run through the stage, which he won by 10 seconds over Cyprus Rally victor Nasser Al-Attiyah (Barwa Ford).
Al-Attiyah was fastest on the second run, but not by enough, as Mikkelsen claimed the event win with an 8.2s cushion.
Bryan Bouffier (ROMO Peugeot) and Martin Prokop (Czech Ford) were third and fourth, unable to match Al-Attiyah's speed on the second run having been close behind him after the first stage.
Roger Feghali, who was second in the championship round this weekend, had to park his Skoda on SS2 when fifth.
Roman Kresta took Group N honours in seventh, with ninth-placed Karl Kruuda the 2WD winner.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Andreas Mikkelsen Ford 37m14.3s 2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford + 8.2s 3. Bryan Bouffier Peugeot + 13.8s 4. Martin Prokop Ford + 24.6s 5. Nicos Thomas Peugeot + 1m25.5s 6. Jaromir Tarabus Ford + 2m07.2s 7. Roman Kresta Mitsubishi + 2m37.8s 8. Constantinos Tingirides Mitsubishi + 3m12.6s 9. Karl Kruuda Suzuki + 3m26.6s 10. Panikos Polykarpou Mitsubishi + 3m32.1s
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