Continuing the streak of excellent performances that started at the beginning of this year, ŠKODA dominated also the third event of this season’s IRC championship.
After two “doubles” scored in the first two events, ŠKODA swept the podium in Ireland. While Finns Juho Hänninen & Mikko Markkula of ŠKODA Motorsport (factory team) marked their first victory this year, ŠKODA has reinforced its lead in the IRC Manufacturers category. Andreas Mikkelsen in a Fabia Super 2000 remains at the top of the Drivers standings.
The Ireland Rally was part of the IRC Championship for the first time in history. Right from the beginning, this difficult asphalt event with narrow bumpy roads saw a fierce battle between two drivers of factory-prepared Fabia Super 2000s and also the latest two IRC champions, Juho Hänninen and Andreas Mikkelsen, who fought for every second up until Stage 12 when Mikkelsen made a mistake that cost him the overall victory, although the gap between him and Hänninen had been just 2.3 sec until that point. Hänninen then comfortably cruised to his first victory this year, Mikkelsen came second and Hänninen’s team-mate Jan Kopecký finished third, beaten for the first time in his fourth competitive appearance this year. Each of these three drivers has won one of the three IRC events that have taken place this year.
Michal Hrabánek, Head of the ŠKODA Motorsport team: “We have achieved an excellent result, so we are leaving this event very satisfied. We have reinforced our lead in the IRC Manufacturers category which is our priority this year.”
Juho Hänninen: “A great victory! It was a fantastic rally, mainly thanks to Andreas. We were pretty fast all over this weekend. Mikko and I have been waiting for a victory for quite some time, so we are very happy now.”
Jan Kopecký: “The conditions were very challenging, particularly on Friday. We did not catch Juho’s and Andreas’s speed at the beginning and then there was no point in trying to chase them and taking chances. Both of them put in a brilliant performance, and this rally was a valuable experience for us.”
The IRC Championships continues in Corsica (fourth event) over May 10 – 12.
IRC Drivers standings after three events:
1. Andreas Mikkelsen / ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 – 61 points
2. Juho Hänninen / ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 – 43 points
3. Jan Kopecký / ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 – 40 points
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