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IRC: Basso wins in San Marino

Fifth series victory for Giandomenico Basso and first for M-Sport's Ford Fiesta RRC in the IRC

Giandomenico Basso has clinched his fifth career victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge following a scintillating battle with Andreas Mikkelsen on the 40th running of Rally San Marino.

Mikkelsen appeared to be in the ascendancy when he won Saturday's opening stage only for Basso to hit back by going fastest on the next run. His triumph ignited a thrilling fight that ebbed and flowed with astonishing frequency, and was only settled in Basso's favour on the very last all-gravel stage.

Such was the intensity of their scrap Basso and Mikkelsen were tied on time for first place on two occasions. At the finish in San Marino's historic quarter on Saturday evening, just 2.8s separated the pair with Basso claiming five stage wins to Mikkelsen's six.

The result means Basso, competing on a gravel rally for the first time in two years, becomes the fifth different winner in the IRC this season, while second place for defending IRC champion Mikkelsen increases his lead over Jan Kopecky in the race for the drivers' crown. Basso's success is also the first for M-Sport's Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car in the IRC.

“I'm very happy,” said Basso, whose victory was his first in the IRC since 2009 and earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. “It was a fantastic race and battle with Andreas, who is a very good driver. My team has done a great job and the car and tyres have been perfect.”

Basso's hopes of success appeared to have nosedived when he dropped 9.1s behind Mikkelsen after Saturday's first test following a cautious run in slightly damp conditions. But with his rival losing time cleaning the road of significantly more loose surface gravel on the next two stages, Basso was able to draw level heading to service in San Marino after Mikkelsen was slowed by powersteering failure.

Mikkelsen began the afternoon loop by edging Basso by 0.3s on stage nine only for Basso to draw level once again following stage 10. The decisive stage came on the next run when Mikkelsen's normally aspirated Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 was unable to match Basso's turbocharged machine on the uphill sections. Basso completed the stage leading by 4.9s and although Mikkelsen was fastest on the final two tests, it wasn't enough to prevent Basso from winning.

Umberto Scandola overcame power and handling issues to secure the final podium place in his Skoda Italia Fabia with Skoda Auto Deutschland's Sepp Wiegand a strong fourth on his Rally San Marino debut and only his third start on gravel. The inexperienced 21-year-old impressed from the outset by recording his first stage win in the IRC. Although he gradually slipped down the order due to tyre selection, handling issues and a costly spin on Friday afternoon, it was nevertheless an impressive showing by Wiegand who has now scored points on all six IRC events he has started this season.

Jarkko Nikara meanwhile upheld Subaru honour with his maiden IRC Production Cup victory by a margin of more than four minutes over the Hungarian Gergély Szabó. Nikara, in a Yokohama-shod Tommi Mäkinen Racing R4 STI, led from the outset and apart from a stall at a hairpin on Saturday morning, little troubled the Finn on his way to a strong fifth overall.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Andreas Mikkelsen. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally San Marino. [Pic credit: IRC]
Giandomenico Basso. Ford Fiesta RRC. Rally San Marino. [Pic credit: IRC]
Umberto Scandola. Skoda Fabia S2000. Rally San Marino. [Pic credit: IRC]
Giandomenico Basso. Ford Fiesta RRC. Rally San Marino. [Pic credit: IRC]
Rally San Marino podium. [Pic credit: IRC]
Giandomenico Basso. Ford Fiesta RRC. Rally San Marino. [Pic credit: IRC]

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