International rallying action returned to the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus tonight with a thrilling 2011 Cyprus Rally Super Special Stage in Paphos – the west coast resort town serving as the base for the season-closing event of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).
See the action!
Watch the action!
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen showed winning form this evening, sweeping through the 3.2km LTV Super Special Stage in just 2min 48.9sec in his Skoda Fabia S2000 alongside co-driver Ola Floene.
The competitive Super Special Stage – Special Stage 1 of the 2011 Cyprus Rally – was a terrific showcase for rallying and a treat for spectators on this island renowned for its love of the sport.
At a lively 2011 Cyprus Rally Ceremonial Start ahead of the Super Special Stage, 34 crews took to the start ramp for what promises to be an exhilarating weekend of motorsport.
Cyprus events are notoriously unpredictable and, with rain showers across the island, the weather might turn out to be another factor in the weekend’s action.
Also showing impressive form on tonight’s Super Special Stage were Finland’s Juho Hanninen, second fastest through the stage just 3.1 seconds behind Mikkelsen, and current championship leader Jan Kopecky of the Czech Republic, a scant 0.2 seconds behind Hanninen.
The final round of the 2011 IRC calendar, the 2011 Cyprus Rally is a coefficient 2 event, and with double points on offer no fewer than 5 entrants could take the title here – Jan Kopecky who currently sits top of the leaderboard in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000, alongside co-driver Petr Stary; Defending IRC champ Juho Hanninen, also steering a Fabia S2000, next to Mikko Markkula; Thierry Neuville (steering a Peugeot 207 S2000); Freddy Loix (a Fabia S2000) and the winner of tonight’s Super Special Stage, 22-year-old Andreas Mikkelsen.
All five crews can be expected to push hard for the title over the next couple of days, but they’ll have tough competition from a strong field. Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah enters the event as a definite favourite after his wins on the last two Cyprus events – including last year’s Cyprus Rally – and a phenomenal run of further successes on the island in recent years. Al-Attiyah, who is fielding a Ford Fiesta S2000, managed eighth fastest on tonight’s Super Special Stage.
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