IRC: Hanninen takes early lead in Portugal

Just 5.7 seconds blanketed the leading three contenders at the end of day one of the 2011 IRC Sata Rallye Acores in Portugal - as Juho Hanninen, Bruno Magalhaes and Andreas Mikkelsen prepare to battle it out for glory
Juho Hanninen has completed the opening day of the 2011 Sata Rallye Acores with a margin of 4.3 seconds over last year's winner Bruno Magalhaes.

Hanninen, the defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) Champion, snatched first place from Andreas Mikkelsen when the Norwegian was slowed on stage two with power steering failure, and extended his advantage at the wheel of his SKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 with the fastest time on the day-closing super-special stage in front of several thousand fans.

“So far it has been quite okay, but there's a long way to go and I am expecting a big fight,” reported the early leader. “I have a good feeling with the car, and I am happy to be starting fifth-on-the-road [on Friday].”

Despite his setback, Mikkelsen remains firmly in contention in his SKODA UK Motorsport Fabia, 1.4 seconds down on Magalhaes and a mere 5.7 seconds behind Hanninen heading into Friday's nine all-gravel stages on the mid-Atlantic island of Sao Miguel.

Magalhaes underlined his threat with the fastest time on stage two in his Peugeot Sport Portugal 207. The Lisbon driver suggested he could have been closer to Hanninen in the overall classification had it not been for a bout of understeer on stage one, which caused his front tyres to experience significant wear.

“It's fantastic to be in this position after some difficult rallies recently,” enthused the local hero. “We made a few changes to the suspension, and the car is good. I am confident for a good second day.”

“We saw some smoke in the middle of stage two, and then I started to lose the power steering,” revealed Mikkelsen. “It was really scary after that, because there were some big crests to control the car on – but I still have a chance.”

Hanninen's SKODA team-mate Jan Kopecky is fourth overnight. The Czech driver said he was still trying to restore his confidence on gravel, having not driven on a loose-surface rally for twelve months. He reported finding optimum braking-points as being particularly troublesome.

Patrik Sandell sits fifth on his return to IRC action in his SKODA Sweden Fabia – but far from happy. With the top five positions after stage two being reversed to determine the road order on Friday, Sandell will be forced to run at the head of the pack and forge a clean path through the surface gravel for the drivers behind.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Andreas Mikkelsen [Pic credit: IRC]
Bruno Magalhaes, Peugeot 207 S2000, IRC Sata Rallye Acores, Portugal, 2011
Daniel Oliveira (BRA), Carlos Magalhaes (POR), MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS S2000
Juho Hanninen, Skoda Fabia S2000, IRC Sata Rallye Acores, Portugal, 2011
Juho Hanninen (FIN), Skoda Fabia S2000
Juho Hanninen, Skoda Fabia S2000, IRC Sata Rallye Acores, Portugal, 2011
Giuseppe Testa (ITA) Emanuele Inglesi (ITA) Peugeot 208 R2
Fabio Andolfi (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Peugeot 208 R2
Giuseppe Testa (ITA) Emanuele Inglesi (ITA) Peugeot 208 R2
Fabio Andolfi (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Peugeot 208 R2
Fabio Andolfi (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Peugeot 208 R2
Andrea Crugnola, Renault Clio R3
Simone Tempestini, Citroen DS3 R3
Simone Tempestini, Citroen DS3 R3
Pontus Tidemand, Skoda Fabia R5
Essapeka Lappi (FIN) Skoda Fabia R5

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.