After SS10: Mikkelsen continues to fly

Andreas Mikkelsen has claimed his seventh stage win on SATA Rallye Açores after topping the times on Saturday’s opening test, the 19.60-kilometre Graminhais run.

The ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver was 1.7s faster than second-placed Juho Hänninen, in a factory Fabia Super 2000, and now leads overall by 17.9s with four stages of this thrilling Intercontinental Rally Challenge season opener remaining.

“This was a nice stage, such a pleasure to drive, it’s fantastic,” said Mikkelsen. “But we have to keep the pressure on and not relax. When you relax it goes very much slower so we try to keep a good pace.”

Andreas Mikkelsen Sata Rallye Azores 2012 Gallery

Finn Hänninen, meanwhile, admitted he was struggling to keep his Norwegian rival in check: “I really tried. It was slippery a few times and I lost the line but I couldn’t do much better. I will try to keep the pressure on him.”

Running first on the road, Sepp Wiegand said the warmer and drier conditions that have greeted the crews on day three contributed to a loose gravel surface. “In some parts it was very loose and the car was too much oversteer so I lost a bit of time,” said the ŠKODA Auto Deutschland ace.

Nevertheless, the young German has moved ahead of his countryman Hermann Gassner Jr into fourth overall after the Red Bull driver approached a hairpin too quickly and stalled his car’s engine. He was 11.3s slower than Wiegand and now trails his fellow Fabia driver by 1.4s in the overall classification.

Bryan Bouffier maintains his grip on third overall despite admitting to a mistake in his Peugeot 207 S2000 when he spun and had to reverse.

Source: IRC series