Thierry Neuville clinches Golden Stage Rally win

Thierry Neuville picked up 40,000 euros in prize money as he defeated Juho Hanninen in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge's Golden Stage season-closer

Kronos Peugeot driver Neuville had been quickest in this morning's first half of the live televised non-points event, on which crews make two passes through a mixed-surface stage in Cyprus, four seconds ahead of Hanninen.

With a replacement gearbox fitted to his Skoda at service after issues following the end of the first stage, Hanninen picked up his pace on the re-run.

But Neuville charged even harder and managed to outpace the S2000 World Rally champion - and 2010 IRC title-winner - by 1.2s to take overall victory by six seconds, giving him the 30,000 euro winner's prize and a further 10,000 euros for winning his class.

Jan Kopecky was a distant third in the other works Skoda. 2011 IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen decided not to contest the event after wrapping up his title in yesterday's championship finale.

Leading finishers after SS2:

Pos  Driver                Team/Car                   Time/Gap
 1.  Thierry Neuville      Kronos/Peugeot Belux       26m02.8s
 2.  Juho Hanninen         Skoda                        + 6.0s
 3.  Jan Kopecky           Skoda                       + 32.3s
 4.  Patrik Sandell        Skoda Sweden                + 48.0s
 5.  Karl Kruuda           ME3 Skoda                 + 1m01.2s
 6.  Nicos Thomas          Thomas Mitsubishi         + 2m19.2s
 7.  Petros Panteli        Costas Petrou Mitsubishi  + 2m33.1s
 8.  Paraskevas Paraskeva  Mitsubishi (private)      + 2m41.6s
 9.  Doros Loucaides       Peugeot (private)         + 3m20.4s
10.  Marco Cavigioli       Island Mitsubishi         + 3m32.4s

Thierry Neuville takes early lead in Golden Stage shoot-out

The 2011 IRC season review