“It's been a season of ups and downs for me, but the results have been getting very strong lately and I've come close to the win a few times. Now it's happened. There were still some dramas. I had two punctures today – the second one made the car very hard to drive but I was lucky as it was right at the end of the stage. To cross that finish line at Scone Palace was the best feeling I've had in a rally car so far.”
For Hanninen, second place represented a remarkable reversal of fortune after set-up issues held him back on Saturday morning. The Finn, the winner in Scotland in 2010, was fastest on three of Sunday's five forest-based tests. Behind fifth-placed Kopecky, Neuville's efforts to recover from a costly spin on stage ten netted sixth overall after he overtook Toni Gardemeister on the penultimate stage. Seventh for Gardemeister means he has scored points on all nine IRC events he has contested this year in his TGS Worldwide Fabia.
"It's an exciting end to the IRC and second place gets good points for Skoda, which was the main target this weekend," Hanninen commented, "It's not been an easy rally but I am very happy to finish second."
M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Alastair Fisher was the leading British finisher in eighth overall after the Northern Irishman successfully fought back from a broken driveshaft on Saturday morning. Wilks should have taken ninth following his comeback drive only to tear a wheel off his car on a gatepost on the final stage to compound a frustrating season.
Matthias Kahle bagged the final point for Skoda Auto Deutschland, the multiple German champion's first in the IRC. It was also the 50th event he and co-driver Peter Gobel have contested together with Skoda.
Skoda Sweden's Patrik Sandell moved into fourth overall after going fastest on stage ten. However, in doing so he damaged his car's suspension running wide near the finish to the point he was unable to go any further. Leading female driver Burcu Cetinkaya retired her Skoda on the road section heading to stage ten with steering problems.
An electrical glitch forced PG Andersson's retirement on stage eleven after the Swede had run as high as fourth in the overall classification. Proton Motorsports' team-mate Alister McRae was unable to restart on Sunday after he stopped on Saturday with a holed sump on his Satria Neo S2000.
In the IRC Production Cup, Toshi Arai made the most of Jarkko Nikara's retirement on stage 13 to win for the first time and take an impressive tenth overall in his R4-specification Subaru Impreza. Nikara was leading when he spun his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer into a ditch and got stuck.
David Bogie started day two in second in class but tore the left-rear wheel off his Lancer running wide on a corner nearing the end of stage eleven. Jason Pritchard finished second in his Impreza, despite having to drive through Sunday's stages with a broken damper, which a lack of spare parts meant he was unable to replace. Arai's team-mate Fumio Nutahara made it a Subaru podium lockout with Marco Cavigioli a strong fourth.
Martin Kangur put a frustrating season behind him to win the IRC 2WD Cup in his Honda Civic Type R. The young Estonian moved in front when Mark Donnelly retired his Clio R3 with a broken engine on Saturday afternoon. Harry Hunt should have finished second but slid into a ditch on stage eleven and was unable to regain the road. Jean-Michel Raoux missed a golden opportunity to move ahead of Stefano Albertini, who was not competing in Scotland, to the top of the IRC 2WD Cup standings only to go off the road on stage 13. Rising Scottish star John MacCrone finished second in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 with Janos Puskadi third for Honda, which crowns the Japanese make as the unofficial IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers' champion.
RACMSA Rally of Scotland - Top ten IRC positions (after day two):
1. Andreas Mikkelsen /Ola Floene
Skoda Fabia S2000 1h55m17.2s
2. Juho Hanninen /Mikko Markkula
Skoda Fabia S2000 +26.4s
3. Bryan Bouffier /Xavier Panseri
Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m35.3s
4. Craig Breen /Gareth Roberts
M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 +2m05.1s
5. Jan Kopecky /Petr Stary
Skoda Fabia S2000 +2m11.7s
6. Thierry Neuville /Nicolas Gilsoul
Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m10.4s
7. Toni Gardemeister /Tapio Suominen
Skoda Fabia S2000 +3m11.5s
8. Alastair Fisher /Daniel Barritt
M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 +4m59.9s
9. Toshi Arai /Dale Moscatt
Subaru Impreza R4 STI +8m17.6s
10. Matthias Kahle /Peter Gobel
Skoda Fabia S2000 +9m36.1s
IRC Production Cup:
Toshi Arai /Dale Moscatt (Subaru Impreza R4 STI)
IRC 2WD Cup:
Martin Kangur /Silver Kutt (Honda Civic Type R)
IRC Drivers' standings (after round 10 of 11) – Top 10:
1. Jan Kopecky
2. Juho Hanninen
3. Thierry Neuville
4. Andreas Mikkelsen
5. Bryan Bouffier
6. Freddy Loix
7. Guy Wilks
8. Toni Gardemeister
9. Bruno Magalhaes
10. Craig Breen
* denotes best seven scores count
Manufacturers' standings (after round 10 of 11):