IRC: Magalhaes takes Acores victory

Portuguese hero wins after thrilling final stage as Kopecky crashes - Hanninen maintains title initiative despite losing out on win with a puncture.
Bruno Magalhaes has claimed his first victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge following a thrilling finish to Sata Rally Acores on Saturday.

The Peugeot Sport Portugal driver took the lead on Friday's first stage but dropped out of top spot on stage 15 with a gearbox problem and feared his chances of winning were over.

But in a dramatic turn of events, Juho Hanninen lost first place with a puncture on the penultimate stage before Jan Kopecky, who started the last test leading by 6.4s, crashed out four kilometres from the finish to hand Magalhaes an emotional win in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans.

Magalhaes had driven without fault throughout the event but his once commanding lead had slowly been eroded by the flying Hanninen, who started Saturday's final seven stages a mere 2.2s behind his Portuguese rival. A faster time through the opening stage of the day for Hanninen elevated him into the joint lead of the event.

With stage 14 cancelled after a herd of cows had wandered into the road, Hanninen had to wait until the following test to move in front of Magalhaes although his task was eased when Magalhaes' gearbox lost its oil and coated the windscreen of his 207 in liquid.

A heroic effort by Magalhaes' mechanics to change his gearbox in the allotted 20-minute service time kept him in the battle for a podium finish before despair turned to joy in the closing stages of the last test when Kopecky crashed out.

Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke, saddled by a high-speed spin on stage six and several punctures, started the final leg first on the road in fifth overall and conceded that overhauling Andreas Mikkelsen for fourth on Saturday's opening stage would be as good as it would get.

But he refused to give up and moved into third when Hanninen had to stop to change a front-right puncture, before seizing second when Kopecky stopped, despite a minor electrical glitch.

Hanninen, driving a factory Skoda Fabia S2000, made up for the disappointment of losing out on his third win of the season by claiming third to extend his lead of the IRC drivers' standings to nine points over Kopecky with Magalhaes moving ahead of the absent Guy Wilks into third after becoming the sixth different winner from seven events.

Tagged as: IRC

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes. Peugeot 207 S2000. Sata Rallye Acores. [Pic credit: IRC]
Harry Hunt secures the IRC 2WD Cup for a second time. Cyprus Rally [Pic credit: IRC]
Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene celebrate in Cyprus after winning IRC title #2 [Pic credit: IRC]
Cyprus Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah on the podium with Andreas Mikkelsen [2nd] and Toshi Arai [3rd] [Pic credit: IRC]
Nasser Al-Attiyah /Giovanni Bernacchini. M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. Cyprus Rally. [Pic credit: IRC]
Jan Kopecky - Škoda Fabia Super 2000
Giandomenico Basso - M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC
Federico Gasperetti - Renault Mégane RS
Craig Breen wins Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy in Sanremo
Alessandro Perico - Peugeot 207 S2000
Giandomenico Basso - M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC
Jan Kopecky - Škoda Fabia Super 2000
Paolo Andreucci - Peugeot 207 S2000
Petar Gyoshev. Mabanol Sliven Rally [Pic credit: IRC]
Dimitar Iliev. Mabanol Sliven Rally winner [Pic credit: IRC]
Dimitar Iliev. Mabanol Sliven Rally [Pic credit: IRC]
Todor Slavov. Mabanol Sliven Rally [Pic credit: IRC]
Petar Gyoshev. Mabanol Sliven Rally [Pic credit: IRC]

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