Juho Hanninen gave Skoda its first victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Saturday, when he brought his Fabia S2000 home in first place on Rally Russia, the sixth round in this year's IRC.

Hanninen led the pack from the word go on Thursday and was never knocked off P1 throughout the three-days. Indeed the Finn was in a class of his own and set the pace in all the stages, bar just one on the second day.

It was a brilliant result especially given this was only Skoda's fourth outing in the IRC and speaking at the finish, after winning by 1 minute 20.9 seconds, Juho was delighted and immediately paid tribute to his team.

"My Fabia was fantastic throughout the rally, I wish to thank the whole team for the excellent job they've done," said Hanninen, who also incidentally won in Russia last year too.

"I felt right from the beginning that I was fast, but we had to be on the ball all the way, as the stages were very stony, especially on Friday and Saturday.

"We enjoyed the rally very much and once again - a big, big thank you goes to the entire team."

Jan Kopecky meanwhile took second in the sister car and while he was unable to match the pace of his team-mate, he still put in a very good run, holding the runners-up spot from SS2 and setting top-three times in 12 of the 13 tests.

"We were nowhere near beating Juho this time," Kopecky conceded. "His performance was excellent. He looks like he was born on this surface!

"This is though a great result for ?koda. I wish to thank the whole team for an excellent job. The car was really superb all the time. The stages were very difficult, very bumpy, with some extremely stony places where the drivers simply could not go full blast.

"I am already looking forward to the rally in Zl?n now in August. I wish to invite all our fans. I am certain that it will be a fantastic event."


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