IRC: Hanninen heads home Skoda 1-2 in Russia

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.

"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.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Juho Hanninen / Mikko Markkula. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally Russia. July 09 [Pic credit: IRC]
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Rally Russia. Atmosphere. July 09 [Pic credit: IRC]
Juho Hanninen / Mikko Markkula. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally Russia. July 09 [Pic credit: IRC]
Juho Hanninen / Mikko Markkula. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally Russia. July 09 [Pic credit: IRC]
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