Mikkelsen fastest in Targa Florio shakedown

Andreas Mikkelsen has set the fastest time in shakedown for Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia.

Driving a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, the defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion clocked a time of 1m39.1s over the 3.0-kilometre stage near Trabia east of the Sicilian capital Palermo.

Craig Breen, driving a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was second fastest on his debut for the HRT Motorsport squad with Giandomenico Basso third quickest in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.

“We had a good test on Monday so we were only really doing a few runs in shakedown,” said Mikkelsen, who spent the session finalising suspension settings in preparation for the 11-stage rally. “In any case the car is good so there is no point doing too much just for the sake of it.”

Breen, who like Mikkelsen is making his Targa Florio debut this week, said shakedown was effectively an extended test session.

“Everything is a bit last minute because this is the first time we have driven the [HRT Peugeot 207 S2000),” said Breen, who is making a one-off switch from Saintéloc Racing to the Italian team. “But the joy of these cars is that they don’t change a lot from one to the other.”

Basso said: “We did a few more runs than normal to get a feel for the car because we could only do a short test. We were just finishing off a couple of ideas we started during the test.”

Shakedown was held in ambient temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade, and Mikkelsen said the heat would be a key feature of the event.

“I think the temperature is going to be hotter than it was when I was in Greece [for the world championship rally last month],” said the Norwegian. “The surface is slippery but I am confident.”

Six-time Targa Florio winner Paolo Andreucci was eighth fastest in his Racing Lions Peugeot 207.

The competitive action gets underway with the Citta’ Di Palermo stage at 20:44hrs local time tonight (Thursday).

Top eight shakedown times (at 12:00hrs)
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (ŠKODA Fabias S2000) 1m39.1s
2 Craig Breen (Peugeot 207 S2000) 1m39.8s
3 Giandomenico Basso (M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC) 1m40.1s
4 Alessandro Perico (Peugeot 207 S2000) 1m40.6s
5 Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 1m40.7s
6 Umberto Scandola (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 1m41.5s
7 Sepp Wiegand (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 1m42.5s
8 Paolo Andreucci (Peugeot 207 S2000) 1m42.7s

Source: ircseries.com