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IRC: Hanninen takes dominant Rally Argentina win

Juho Hanninen wins 11 of the 15 stages on Rally Argentina to take a commanding victory on round three of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Juho Hanninen and Skoda have made it three different winners from three rounds of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge following a dominant victory on Rally Argentina, which finished with a spectacular superspecial stage through the streets of host town Carlos Paz on Sunday.

The Finn, who drives for the factory Skoda Motorsport team, builds his overall title lead to five points after claiming his first win of the season. Proof of the 28-year-old's impressive performance on the challenging gravel event was underlined by the fact he won 11 of the 15 special stages, despite having to run first on the road on the final day of the rally.

"I'm very happy but a little bit surprised how good everything has been for me on this rally," said Hanninen. "There was a lot of fog on the first stage but I knew I didn't need to push. I took it easy to avoid the rocks but I also had to keep my rhythm to avoid making any mistakes. It's been safe and fast you could say and I have had a very good feeling. I would like to have the same feeling on every rally."

Hanninen's win also marked Skoda's maiden victory of the 2010 IRC and has given the Czech firm a 22-point lead in the IRC manufacturers' standings after three rounds.

Briton Guy Wilks meanwhile finished runner-up after a strong drive, which helped him to cement his second place in the drivers' table. Wilks started Sunday's final leg intent on closing on overnight leader Hanninen but a minor brake problem on his Fabia S2000 cost him valuable time and meant he had to settle for second.

"We've had a fantastic two rallies in South America with two second places and Skoda UK Motorsport has done a magnificent job," said Wilks. "Juho drove very well and we maintained a fast and safe pace. I'm looking forward to fine tuning the set-up and challenging for victory on our next event."

Kris Meeke, in a Peugeot 207, was also hamstrung by mechanical problems, an electronic issue contributing to an intermittent throttle glitch, which led to a fraught midday service while his Peugeot UK mechanics worked to rectify the problem. He looked set to hold on to third place until disaster struck on the penultimate stage of the event when a steering bolt broke and forced him to retire. Meeke's misfortune let in Jan Kopecky for third place to complete a one-two-three for Skoda.

"I'm very happy to be on the podium after quite a difficult rally but I think without Kris having the problem it would not have been possible. It was bad luck for him but good for me," noted Kopecky.

Gabriel Pozzo finished as the top Argentine driver in fourth overall after edging ahead of countryman Federico Villagra on Sunday's fourth stage to secure the first IRC manufacturer championship points for Subaru. Pozzo's performance meant he also secured his second win in a row in the Argentinean championship, which ran alongside the main IRC event.




Related Pictures

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Juho Hanninen / Mikko Markkula. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally Argentina. [Pic credit: IRC]
Juho Hanninen / Mikko Markkula. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally Argentina winners. [Pic credit: IRC]

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