Yagiz Avci has entered the record books as the first Turkish driver to win a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge since the series begun six years ago following his success on the Prime Yalta Rally in the Ukraine.

Piloting an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, the three-time Turkish champion reached the finish on the banks of the Black Sea more than three minutes ahead of his closest rival.

A sterling performance from start to finish enabled Robert Consani to clinch the runner-up spot, as well as the first IRC podium for French manufacturer Renault. His maiden top-three plus an IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup double earned Consani the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy.

"This was a tough rally but I am very happy to win," said Avci who was co-driven by countryman Bahadir G?cenmez. "We were driving carefully this afternoon because we wanted to keep our position after Yuriy [Protasov] retired. On today's second stage, we caught Yuriy during the last five kilometres and it was very difficult to pass him so we lost quite a bit of time. We tried to improve our pacenotes this afternoon as we hope to be back next year but right now I can't believe I have won, it feels fantastic."

Ukraine's Yuriy Protasov was leading his home event until a puncture followed by an off-road excursion on the day's second stage dropped him out of winning contention. The Fiesta RRC driver then encountered further bad luck when he broke a steering arm and damaged his suspension, forcing the 28-year-old to finally call it a day.

"For sure, I am disappointed to retire but I am still feeling positive," explained an upbeat Protasov. "It was our first time in the Fiesta and I have been happy with our times. Yesterday we had a good day but today we were unlucky on three stages in a row. That is life but I learned a lot - I never expected to come here and win so I cannot allow myself to feel disappointed."

A solid performance by Laszlo Vizin earned the Skoda Fabia Super 2000 driver the final podium spot in the Crimea. The Hungarian reported a gear sensor problem during the opening loop in addition to a small handling issue, but Vizin was nevertheless delighted with his first IRC podium.

Behind, Mykola Chmykh came in fourth overall and second in the IRC Production Cup in his Subaru impreza STI, while, after a series of setbacks, Marco Tempestini battled on in another Impreza to claim fifth and the third step on the IRC Production Cup podium. The Romanian reported numerous problems over the course of the three-day rally including three punctures on the closing day and a broken gear lever.

Murat Bostanci, Marco Cavigioli and Oleksiy Panov finished in positions 6 through to 8, with Stanislav Besedin and Eytan Halfon rounding out the top ten.

Peugeot 207 S2000 driver Yukhym Vazheyevskyy meanwhile dropped out of the podium fight yesterday after engine problems forced an early retirement. The Ukrainian restarted today but was not eligible to score points. Vazheyevskyy made it to the end of the rally after replacing a windscreen when the original was smashed when the bonnet flew open on stage 11.

After vying for the top spot alongside Protasov and displaying an impressive show of speed, Finn Mikko Pajunen retired after he crashed his Fiesta on the second day of competition.

The 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season now continues later this month with Mabanol Silven Rally in Bulgaria, which runs from September 28-30.

Prime Yalta Rally - Top ten IRC positions (after SS14):

1. Ya?iz Avci /Bahadir G?cenmez M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 3h9m58.7s
2. Robert Consani /Nicolas Klinger Renault M?gane RS +3m13.4s
3. L?szl? Vizin /Gabor Zsiros ?KODA Fabia S2000 +3m38.4s
4. Mykola Chmykh /Olexandr Vilchynskyi Subaru Impreza STI +9m31.5s
5. Marco Tempestini /Dorin Pupea Subaru Impreza R4 STI +12m47.9s
6. Murat Bostanci /Onur Vatansever M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 +15m14.3s
7. Marco Cavigioli /Monica Fortunato Mitsubishi Evolution Lancer IX +19m35.1s
8. Oleksiy Panov /Olexandr Yukushev Honda Civic Type R +20m54.1s
9. Stanislav Besedin /Olexandr Donskiy M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 +26m41.2s
10. Eytan Halfon /Sedat Bostanci M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 +33m25.1s
IRC Production Cup: Robert Consani /Nicolas Klinger (Renault M?gane RS)IRC 2WD Cup: Robert Consani /Nicolas Klinger (Renault M?gane RS)

IRC Standings (after round 10 of 13) - Top Ten*

1. Andreas Mikkelsen 136pts
2. Juho Hanninen 93pts
3. Jan Kopecky 83pts
4. Sepp Wiegand 53pts
5. Giandomenico Basso 40pts
6. Patrik Flodin 28pts
= Robert Consani 28 points
8. Bryan Bouffier 27pts
= Umberto Scandola 27pts
10. Dani Sordo 25ptsYagiz Avci 25 pts

* - best eight rounds to count

IRC Manufacturers standings (after round 10 of 13)

1. ?koda 325pts
2. Peugeot 187pts
3. M-Sport 137pts
4. Subaru 110pts
5. Renault 109pts
6. Honda 43pts



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