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IRC: Kopecky nabs win in Gran Canaria

18 March 2012


Jan Kopecky has claimed a dramatic final-stage victory on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles after an engine misfire slowed rival Andreas Mikkelsen with his first win in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on asphalt in his grasp.

Kopecky, in a factory Skoda Fabia Super 2000, had trailed Mikkelsen's Skoda UK entry by 3.6s starting the final 16.12-kilometre test. But with Mikkelsen losing vital speed due to a broken injector connector, he was powerless to defend his advantage as Czech Kopecky raced to his first victory in the IRC this season and his second on Gran Canaria following his maiden triumph in 2010.

“We were pushing quite much on the last three stages and finally Andreas had some problems with the car,” said Kopecky. “I must say I don't feel so happy because I wanted to beat him in a fight.

“But this is what can happen in rallying so thanks to Skoda because they gave us an opportunity to be here and thanks to my new co-driver Pavel Dresler because today he improved himself a lot and did a great job

In the end Mikkelsen had to settle for the runner-up spot, 28.3s behind Kopecky, but still extends his lead in the IRC drivers' standings, while Skoda, now unbeaten on this event for the three years, claims maximum IRC manufacturers' points for the second time this season.

“The car started misfiring three kilometres from the end of the penultimate stage,” said a dejected Mikkelsen, who led after all but two stages of the 15-stage rally. “We tried to make some repairs but there was nothing we could do. There was no power at all – we were just hoping we could get through the stage. It's so disappointing this happens when we think we're going to win.”

Luis Monzon was the top Peugeot finisher and the leading Spaniard in an impressive third overall with Sepp Wiegand a fine fourth on his Canarias debut for Skoda Auto Deutschland. Monzon hadn't driven a Super 2000-specification car until this week but shrugged off his lack of recent experience to produce a faultless drive. His performance earn him the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which goes to the driver whose performance best embodies the spirit of the rally legend on each round of the IRC.

With fourth-place all but secured following Hermann Gassner Jr's crash on Saturday's first stage, Wiegand spent the afternoon experimenting with different car set ups ahead of the upcoming asphalt rallies in Northern Ireland and Corsica. It was the second event in a row that the 21-year-old German has finished fourth, thereby underlining his huge potential.

Spaniard Jonathan Perez took fifth in another Peugeot 207 with Joan Vinyes winning the IRC 2WD Cup for the second year in a row in sixth position, closely followed by Gorka Antxustegui and Honda driver Angel Marrero. With Vinyes and Antxustegi not eligible for overall IRC points, Marrero collects sixth-placed points.

Hungary's Janos Puskadi, competing in a Skoda Fabia S2000 for the first time, impressed on his way to ninth overall and seventh-placed points. Skydive Dubai Rally Team's Rashid Al-Ketbi finished 10th to bag four IRC points with Honda driver Germán Hernandez and Renault's Robert Consani rounding out the IRC point scorers, the latter also securing the victory in the IRC Production Cup.

The 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season now continues next month with the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Raly, running from April 6-7.


Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés - Top ten IRC positions (after day two)*:

1. Jan Kopecký /Pavel Dresler Skoda Fabia S2000 2h21m46.5s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen /Ola Fløene Skoda Fabia S2000 +28.3s
3. Luis Monzón /Jose C Deniz Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m13.6s
4. Sepp Wiegand /Timo Gottschalk Skoda Fabia S2000 +4m32.0s
5. Jonathan Perez /Enrique Velasco Peugeot 207 S2000 +7m29.3s
6. Angel Marrero /Victor Marrero Honda Civic Type R +11m27.4s
7. Janós Puskádi /Barna Gódor Skoda Fabia S2000 +12m03.3s
8. Rashid Al Ketbi /Khalid Al Ketbi Skoda Fabia S2000 +14m43.2s
9. Germán Hernandez /Israel Pereira Honda Civic Type R +15m13.8s
10. Robert Consani /Nicolas Klinger Renault Mégane RS +16m13.5s

IRC Production Cup: Robert Consani /Nicolas Klinger (Renault Mégane RS)
IRC 2WD Cup: Joan Vinyes /Mercader (Suzuki Swift S1600)

* Only drivers in cars from eligible manufacturers can score overall IRC drivers' points. The IRC 2WD Cup is open to all drivers in two-wheel-drive machinery regardless of make.


IRC Drivers' standings (after round 2 of 13) – Top 10:*

1. Andreas Mikkelsen 43pts
2. Jan Kopecky 25pts
3. Sepp Wiegand 24pts
4. Juho Hänninen 18pts
5. Bryan Bouffier 15pts
= Luis Monzón 15pts
7. Hermann Gassner Jr 10pts
= Jonathan Perez 10pts
9. Angel Marrero 8pts
= Ricardo Moura 8pts

* best eight scores count


IRC manufacturers (after round 2 of 13):

1. Skoda 86pts
2. Peugeot 42pts
3. Honda 18pts
4. M-Sport 16pts
5. Subaru 12pts
6. Renault 7pts


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