Andy goes down in Titanic fight

“Andy Mick” and Juho Hanninen began an epic fight in the Circuit of Ireland on a special stage around Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the doomed Titanic was built 100 years ago.

They went on to scrap for every second on the tight and twisty lanes around Belfast and Armagh.

But then Mikkelsen, driving for The Sun’s motorsport partners Skoda UK, made a crucial mistake.

He left his braking too late into a left hand bend on Stage 12 and hurtled sideways into a straw bale.

The crash looked innocuous. But one side of the car was staved in and Mikkelsen was so dazed that for a moment he did not know where he was.

It was 40 seconds before he and navigator Ola Floene got going again.

Not only was the rally lost but Mikkelsen then had to struggle through the remainder of the rally feeling semi-conscious.

But he managed to get to the end and lost only a few more seconds to triumphant Finn Hanninen, driving a factory Skoda Fabia.

Mikkelsen said of the shunt: “I don’t remember too much about it, to be honest, but I know it was quite hard.

“It was very slippery and I just lost the car. Afterwards I was feeling not so good and was not 100 per cent. I just had to get to the finish.”

Mikkelsen’s second place means he is still leading the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

He said: “It was a rally I would have liked to have won.

“We were close and having a good fight.

“It’s a shame what happened but, OK, I have got a lot of points and things are looking good for the championship.

“Juho had a fantastic weekend so well done to him.”

Czech ace Jan Kopecky was third to make it a Skoda 1-2-3.

Frenchman Mathieu Arzeno was first Peugeot home in fourth followed by local hero Craig Breen in his Pug.

Source: The Sun