Cyprus Rally 2011 - After SS1: Mikkelsen flies in Pafos streets

Andreas Mikkelsen has made a sensational start to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title decider in Cyprus by clocking the fastest time through the LTV Super Special Stage held in the streets of Pafos and shown live on the Cypriot broadcaster.

Mikkelsen, driving a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, completed the 3.20-kilometre all-asphalt course 3.1s faster than defending IRC champion Juho Hänninen. Title leader Jan Kopecký, who is being co-driven by Pavel Dresler for the first time, was third quickest, 0.2s slower than his factory ŠKODA team-mate.

“It’s a good start, a good stage and hopefully we’ll keep it this way for the whole rally,” said Mikkelsen. “We won’t go flat out everywhere but if I drive fast and consistent I’ll be really happy.”

Hänninen was one of several drivers who used scrubbed gravel tyres to improve the handling of his car. “It was a nice start,” said the Finn. “It was quite good with these tyres because the grip felt good.”

Freddy Loix was fourth fastest in his BFO-ŠKODA Rally Team Fabia with fellow Belgian Thierry Neuville fifth in his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg entry.

“It was not so bad but I lost time braking too for the first corner,” said Neuville. “On Tarmac with the gravel tyre it is very slippery.”

Toshi Arai impressed with the sixth fastest time in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

Last year’s Cyprus Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was the first driver to tackle the stage in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. He said: “There are a lot of spectators, it’s really interesting and the road was quite slippery. A few times we were very close to the kerbs but we were okay.”

Thousands of fans descended on the stage, which was free of charge to members of the public.

Source and Full result Click here!