Andreas Mikkelsen leads Cyprus Rally after day one

Source: Autosport

Andreas Mikkelsen is now in prime position to claim the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title, having taken the lead in Cyprus as main rival Thierry Neuville retired from leg one.

Neuville (Kronos Peugeot) had claimed the lead when Mikkelsen spun his Skoda UK Fabia on SS3 this morning. Both men knew that a victory would be enough to give them the championship.

But on the next stage Neuville lost two minutes with a puncture, and also reported a battery problem. An apparent alternator issue then caused his Peugeot to stop on the subsequent road stage, ending his title bid.

Mikkelsen won both stages this afternoon and will start day two with a 20.7-second lead over Nasser Al-Attiyah's Barwa Ford.

Current championship leader Jan Kopecky is falling away in third place in his Skoda, and with double points available in Cyprus, that will not be enough to hang on and take the title if Mikkelsen wins.

Freddy Loix, the other man still chasing the title, moved ahead of fellow Skoda driver Patrik Sandell for fourth on SS4 as he got more comfortable on gravel after a long absence, but remains a long way from the leaders.