After SS9: Crazy push puts Mikkelsen back in the fight

Andreas Mikkelsen has cut Juho Hänninen’s lead of the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally to 4.2s despite a “big moment” on the ninth stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.

Mikkelsen repeated the second run of the 25-kilometre Redrock stage in a time of 13m26.2s with Hänninen recording a 13m31.0s in his similar ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

“We pushed everything we had,” said Norwegian Mikkelsen. “We had a big moment near the end when I had to save the car five times on a straight. I was in a ditch and bouncing off a hedge. It was absolutely crazy, we need to push.”

Hänninen said: “It was much more dry than in the morning so no drama. I have to keep the pressure on to keep Andreas behind.”

>> Gallery: Andreas Mikkelsen Circuit of Ireland Rally 2012<<

Jan Kopecký is adopting a low-risk strategy to maintain his third place overall in his Fabia. He was third fastest through the stage, 11.5s slower than Mikkelsen.

Craig Breen was fourth quickest in his Saintéloc Peugeot 207 S2000 and is now 21.0s behind ŠKODA Ireland’s Robert Barrable in the battle for fifth position overall. Breen said changes to his rear damper settings in service had improved the handling of his car.

Sepp Wiegand lost several seconds when he braked too late for a junction and charged a fence in his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia.

“The window is broken, we lost a lot of time,” said the young German driver. “I pushed a bit harder but maybe the tyres were a little cold.”

IRC 2WD Cup leader Marty McCormack suffered an overshoot at a square-right junction. The Northern Irishman is nursing a gearbox problem but still managed to go faster than category rival Tommy Doyle. Garry Jennings continues to top the IRC Production Cup standings in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.

Source: irc