Andreas Mikkelsen was crowned the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers’ champion, after winning the Cyprus Rally in his factory-prepared Škoda UK Motorsport Fabia S2000.
Although it was his first full season in the IRC, Andreas deserved the title after he led the last six rounds of the series, won the final two rallies and set fastest time on an unmatched 38 special stages.
Co-driven by Ola Fløene, Andreas set seven (out of 11) fastest stage times in Cyprus and led for all but one stage – losing his lead momentarily after a spin on SS3.
It’s been a highly successful IRC campaign for Škoda, which defended its manufacturers’ title. It recorded 100 fastest special stage wins out of a possible 150 during the year, and six Fabia S2000s filled the top six positions in Cyprus.
The mixed-surface stages in the mountains above the host town of Pafos provided a great challenge and a fitting finale to a fantastic IRC season – and the event soon turned into a winner-takes-all spectacular when Juho Hänninen (Škoda Motorsport) crashed out on SS2.
Andreas survived a scare on SS8 when a nail pierced a front tire but the Michelin tire didn’t deflate. On the next stage he and second placed Jan Kopecký (Škoda Motorsport) hit the same rock 5.5 miles from the end of SS9 and both picked up a puncture. Andreas lost less time (12.9 seconds) as he had a rear right flat, compared to the more time-consuming front right puncture (45.5 seconds) for Kopecký. The net result was that Andreas actually increased his lead by 32.9 seconds!
Entering the final and most difficult stage with a 1min 27.3sec lead, Andreas set fastest time on SS11 to win the Cyprus Rally by 1min 40.5secs and become IRC drivers’ champion in sensational style.
In recognition of his performance and achievement, Andreas received the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. The recipient is selected by a three man judging panel consisting of Jimmy McRae, Gilbert Roy (Eurosport) and Jean-Pierre Nicolas (IRC), and it’s the second time that Andreas has been honored with the award (the first at the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine).
Andreas: “To become IRC champion is such a fantastic feeling, the likes of which I have never felt before. Five years ago a knee injury forced me to quit my alpine skiing career and since then we have put so much effort into my rallying, not just by me, but also by the people around me. To give this title back to everyone who has put so much faith in me is incredible.
“The last three stages of this rally were the longest of my life and I was imagining so many noises in the car that I’d never heard before. Crossing the finish line was very emotional and I was crying like a baby!”
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (Škoda Fabia S2000)….2hrs 25mins18.5secs
2. Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (Škoda Fabia S2000)….+1min 40.5secs
3. Patrik Sandell/Staffan Parmander (Škoda Fabia S2000)….+2mins 54.8secs
4. Karl Kruuda/Martin Järveoja (Škoda Fabia S2000)….+4mins 33.0secs
5. Freddy Loix/Frédéric Miclotte (Škoda Fabia S2000)….+5mins 25.4secs
6. Matthias Kahle/Peter Göbel (Škoda Fabia S2000)….+7mins 48.9secs
7. Toshi Arai/Dale Moscatt (Subaru Impreza R4 STI)….+8mins 16.2secs
8. Mark Wallenwein/Stefan Kopczyk (Škoda Fabia S2000)….+13mins 06.7secs
9. Jean-Michel Raoux/Laurent Magat (Renault Clio R3)….+14mins 36.4secs
10. Doros Loucaides/Savvas Laos (Peugeot 207 S2000)….+15mins 07.8secs
IRC points (after Round 11)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen….153.5pts
2. Jan Kopecký….152pts
3. Juho Hänninen….125pts
4. Freddy Loix….123pts
5. Thierry Neuville….115pts
6. Bryan Bouffier….110.5pts
7. Guy Wilks….47pts
8. Patrik Sandell….44pts
9. Toni Gardemeister….43pts
10. Karl Kruuda….39pts
1. Škoda ….362.5pts