Hanninen edges away in Ireland after slight error by Mikkelsen

Juho Hanninen's Circuit of Ireland lead is up to nine seconds after a mistake by Andreas Mikkelsen amid a colossal battle between Skoda's two Intercontinental Rally Challenge champions.

After Hanninen took the lead on Friday night, Mikkelsen retaliated on Saturday's opener - where his rival confessed to being too cautious - and regained first place by 0.6 seconds.

But a big push by Hanninen on the Drumhillery stage, where Mikkelsen felt his soft tyres were the wrong choice, took the Finn back to the top by 1.6s, and when Mikkelsen then overshot a corner on Hollow, Hanninen found himself with the biggest lead anyone has enjoyed so far on the ultra-close event.

Jan Kopecky described the top two's pace as "crazy" and is now a minute behind in third in the second works Skoda.

Alastair Fisher crashed his M-Sport Ford on the first stage of the day, so fourth placed now belongs to top Peugeot driver Mathieu Arzeno (Sainteloc). After his penalties for being late into service on Friday evening, Arzeno's team-mate Craig Breen is now sixth, between Skoda men Robert Barrable and Sepp Wiegand.

Seven further stages remain, split across two loops later on Saturday.

Source: Autosport