Juho Hanninen dominated Rally Russia this weekend to give Skoda its first win in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge - and on only the Czech manufacturers' fourth appearance.

Hanninen led the event from start-to-finish, winning all but one of the stages in his Skoda Fabia S2000. He eventually beat his team-mate, Jan Kopecky, who was 'best of the rest', by 1 minute 20.9 seconds.

"My goal was to win over here, but we all know how difficult this rally is. I did all I could to avoid the rocks. Luck also helped a bit I think," said Hanninen, who won this event last year as well.

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"But anyway, the most important thing is that I didn't have any punctures. And it's a 1-2 for Skoda, so a great result!"

Kopecky was also pleased and after another measured performance second puts him right in the thick of the title battle - just one point behind Peugeot's Kris Meeke, who stays top, and five points ahead of Freddy Loix, who is third. Peugeot skipped this event.

"Last year, I lost second place after a puncture. So this year I told myself not to push 100 per cent, because the risk is so high," Kopecky explained.

"On a few stages I tried to push a little bit more and the times were not so bad. But Juho was very fast, like last year, and there was no way to catch him.

"This is the perfect weekend for us and now we can work towards repeating it on home ground in the Czech Republic next month."

Giandomenico Basso meanwhile completed the podium, after a rally-long battle with his Abarth team-mate Anton Alen and the flying Proton of Guy Wilks.

Basso eventually finished more than 2.5 minutes off P2 and a minute up on the Subaru Impreza STi of Patrik Flodin, who was fourth - but not registered to score IRC points.

"It's always great to grab some points after such a difficult rally," said Basso. "Yesterday, we had a water leak and that made us worry about the engine.

"The balance of the car was not good and we couldn't fix that. Plus I had trouble with punctures and so we need to analyse the data, see what was missing, and use these points to boost our season."

Further down the order, Guy Wilks came in fifth, having lost around 3 minutes in SS7 with a puncture. The Englishman had been running comfortably in third up to that point - almost 40 seconds up on Basso, but the flat dropped him to seventh. He had another puncture on the final day - however, he still held on to finish in P5 and was the fourth IRC runner home.

Next man up was Franz Wittmann Jr, who celebrated his best-ever finish in the IRC with Ralliart after a time penalty for Anton Alen was made following the final stage. Alen thus dropped a place, but could console himself with the fact he was the only driver who won a stage other than Hanninen.

For the local men there were slim pickings to be found on the 2009 Rally Russia. Reigning Russian champion Alesandr Zheludov retired his Peugeot 207, which had run as high as fifth. That left Boris Zimin as the best placed local, bringing his Evo IX to the finish in eighth, ahead of Alexey Katkov and Kaspar Koitla.

Koitla from Estonia not only gave Honda its second successive 2WD victory but he also claimed a point as he was eighth of the drivers' registered to score IRC points.

The 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge now heads to Madeira at the end of this month, an event the works Skoda's will sit out as they focus on repeating their dominance at home on the Barum Rally Zlin in six weeks time.