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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Start of the 2012 IRC Series --Opens with:

Portugal - Gravel 23-25 February 2012



Based on the Atlantic archipelago’s largest island of São Miguel, the event is characterised by narrow and undulating gravel stages with one test taking crews along the rim of a dormant volcano. Known for its changeable climate, a move from its traditional July slot to mid-February only increases the unpredictability. For the fans, there’s a spectator superspecial in a quarry and a harbour-side service park. A Tarmac prologue stage on host town Ponta Delgada’s promenade is new for 2012.

Official Website: satarallyeacores.com/uk/

Listen Rally Radio: rallyradio.com/RallyRadio/Welcome


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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
After SS1:
Mikkelsen fastest on first stage Reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen has taken an early lead on SATA Rallye Açores after going fastest on the event’s opening stage, the 8.25-kilometre Coroa da Mata test.

The ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver was 3.2s faster than factory ŠKODA driver Juho Hänninen despite picking up a front-left puncture nearing the end of the test.

“I got a puncture on the third last corner but it’s okay,” said Mikkelsen, who finished second in the Azores last season.

Hänninen, who is running first on the road in his Fabia S2000, suggested the slippery nature of the stage surface had cost him precious seconds.

Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in his Delta Rally Peugeot 207 S2000 with Bruno Magalhães the leading Portuguese driver in fourth overall in another Peugeot. The Lisbon-based driver was 15.8s adrift of Mikkelsen’s stage best.

Multiple Azorean rally champion Ricardo Moura, one of the favourites for IRC Production Cup glory, said he had not been “pushing at 100 per cent” in his efforts to win the Group N category for a third year in a row.

SS1 Live Times: ircseries.com/events/live/SS1

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After SS2:

Hänninen closes on Açores top spot Juho Hänninen has hit back on SATA Rallye Açores by winning the second stage of the event. It means he has narrowed fellow ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driver Andreas Mikkelsen’s overall lead to 1.2s with one stage of the opening day’s action remaining.

Finn Hänninen took 5m08.5s to complete the São Brás/Vila Franca stage, which was shortened by 10 kilometres due to road damage caused by recent rainfall. He was 2.0s quicker than Mikkelsen, the defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion.

Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in his Peugeot 207 S2000 after reporting being too cautious over rough sections of the stage. Portugal’s Bruno Magalhães was fourth in his similar car, despite losing ground when he had to reverse following a handbrake fault.

IRC Production Cup contender Ricardo Moura reported a throttle problem on his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer but still managed to outpace ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand, who is competing in the Azores for the first time.

SS2 Live Times ircseries.com/events/live/SS2

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After SS3:

Mikkelsen edges superspecial Andreas Mikkelsen has gained a small psychological advantage over Juho Hänninen by edging his rival over the 2.20-kilometre Grupo Marques superspecial stage.

Crews tackled the test in pairs with ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Mikkelsen going up against factory ŠKODA driver Hänninen in a dramatic head-to-head battle for supremacy. Cheered on by thousands of enthusiastic fans, the Norwegian beat the Finn by 0.2s over the purpose-built course.

It means Mikkelsen’s overall advantage now stands at 1.4s heading to the overnight halt in Ponta Delgada.

Peugeot drivers Bryan Bouffier and Bruno Magalhães were joint third quickest in their 207s with Ricardo Moura fifth and Oleksandr Saliuk sixth. Moura reported nudging a stage-side barrier with his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer.

ŠKODA-mounted German duo Sepp Wiegand and Hermann Gassner Jr were seventh and eighth fastest respectively.

Crews are now heading back to Ponta Delgada for a 45-minute service halt.


SS3 Live Times ircseries.com/events/live/SS3


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IRC Açores day one review:

Mikkelsen tops close battle Season six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge has got off to a thrilling start with Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen heading Finn Juho Hänninen by a tight margin of 1.4s following the opening three stages of SATA Rallye Açores today (Thursday).

Local hero Ricardo Moura tops the IRC Production Cup category with Harry Hunt, from the United Kingdom, holding the lead of the IRC 2WD Cup.

Mikkelsen, the reigning IRC champion, made the best possible start to his IRC title defence by winning the day’s first test despite picking up a front-left puncture nearing the end of the run.

Hänninen, who beat Mikkelsen to victory in the Azores last season, went quickest on the second stage to narrow the ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver’s advantage only for the former downhill skier to hit back by beating Hänninen, in his factory Fabia Super 2000, in their head-to-head battle through the Grupo Marques superspecial stage in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans.

“It’s been a good start and, as expected, we’re having a close battle with Juho,” said Mikkelsen. “We used today to find a good pace that we’re comfortable with, and we’ll continue with that pace tomorrow. With the top five running in reverse order, we’ll start fifth on the road tomorrow so we’ll try to make sure that plays to our advantage. Today was a bit of a warm-up; tomorrow’s a long day and that’s when the proper rally starts.”

Hanninen added: “It was okay, a little slippery in some places today and some fog, but I am happy. For sure, it is going to be a big fight between me and Andreas. He was really speeding today.”

Bryan Bouffier is the leading Peugeot driver in third overall, one place ahead of Portugal’s Bruno Magalhães, who is driving a similar 207 S2000 on the event he won in 2010. Frenchman Bouffier suggested he needed to find more speed in order to take the fight to the leading ŠKODA duo, while Magalhães lost precious seconds with a handbrake problem on stage two.

ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s rising German star Sepp Wiegand is an impressive fifth overall on his IRC debut and his first appearance in the Azores. He is 1.7s ahead of Moura, who reported a throttle problem and a brush with a barrier in the superspecial. But with the top five overall positions reversed for day two, Wiegand now faces the prospect of sweeping the loose-surface gravel for his rivals running behind.

Wiegand’s countryman Hermann Gassner Jr is seventh overnight in his Red Bull-backed Fabia, one place ahead of Dream Team Ukraine’s Oleksandr Saliuk, who is driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 on his maiden outing in the IRC.

Rashid Al-Ketbi is a strong ninth for the Skydive Dubai Rally Team with Saliuk’s team-mate Oleksiy Tamrazov completing the top 10, just ahead of Romania’s Marco Tempestini in a Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

Friday’s action consists of 82.85 kilometres of competitive action and gets underway with the first of six stages at 10:20hrs local time.


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Day 2

After SS4:


Magalhaes closes up in Açores Bruno Magalhães has closed to within 5.3s of third-placed Bryan Bouffier following stage four of SATA Rallye Azores, the seven-kilometre Feteiras test.

In slippery conditions, the former event winner was third fastest through the stage despite reporting his Peugeot 207 S2000 had been inflicted with a bout of oversteer.

“It was difficult, very slippery,” said the multiple Portuguese champion. “Sometimes you have grip, other times it is not much. I have to improve the traction because the car is always oversteering.”

Bouffier, meanwhile, said he slid wide in a few places due to the slippery nature of the stages.

In the battle for first place stage winner Andreas Mikkelsen has increased his overall lead to 3.2s after going 1.8s faster than rival and fellow ŠKODA Fabia S2000 driver Juho Hänninen through the run.

Sepp Wiegand, who was seventh fastest, admitted it was tough going running first on the road in his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia. As a result he has slipped to sixth overall behind IRC Production Cup leader Ricardo Moura. “It was really slippery and really muddy but there was no damage and no problems,” he said.

SS4 Live Times: ircseries.com/events/live/SS4

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After SS5:

Spin drama for Hanninen There was drama on stage five of SATA Rallye Açores when second-placed Juho Hänninen suffered a high-speed spin in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000.

Former IRC champion Hänninen was hunting down rally leader Andreas Mikkelsen when he spun on a fast downhill section in slippery conditions. He had to reverse to get pointing in the right direction again and dropped more than 10 seconds to Mikkelsen in the process.

It means the ŠKODA UK driver’s lead rises to 13.6s heading to the midday service halt in Ponta Delgada.

Fourth-placed Bruno Magalhães reported a “big, big moment” near the stage start in his Peugeot 207 S2000. He slips to 6.3s behind Bryan Bouffier, who is third overall in his Peugeot.

IRC Production Cup leader Ricardo Moura has dropped down from fifth to seventh behind Sepp Wiegand and Hermann Gassner Jr after admitting he was too cautious in the slippery downhill sections in his Ralliart Lancer.

Skydive Dubai’s Rashid Al-Ketbi is understood to have stopped in the stage with a broken right wheel while Oleksiy Tamrazov is also in trouble in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, failing to complete the run. Harry Hunt has dropped out of the chase for the IRC 2WD Cup laurels with a reported radiator problem.

Gassner Jr and Subaru Impreza driver Marco Tempestini both completed the test with minor bodywork damage to their cars.

SS5 Live Times: ircseries.com/live/SS5

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After SS6:

Despair as Magalhaes crashes out Bruno Magalhães’ bid for a podium finish on his home round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is over after he rolled his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 on stage six of SATA Rallye Açores.

The Portuguese was chasing Bryan Bouffier for third place when he hit trouble on the repeat of the seven-kilometre Feteiras stage fortunately without injury to neither he nor co-driver Carlos Magalhães.

“I saw Bruno went off,” said Bouffier at the stage finish. “The crew are okay. We lost some time when the marshals tried to slow us down. His car is on the roof. It is finished for him.”

Out front, defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen has grown his overall advantage to 15.5s after winning the stage with a time that was 1.9s faster than factory ŠKODA pilot Juho Hänninen.

Magalhães’ exit promotes Sepp Wiegand to fourth overall with fellow German Hermann Gassner Jr up to fifth in his similar Fabia S2000. Ricardo Moura continues to lead the IRC Production Cup in sixth overall.



SS6 Live Times: ircseries.com/live/SS6

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After SS7:

Hanninen hits back in Açores Juho Hänninen has hit back in the battle for victory on SATA Rallye Açores by winning the second pass through the Sete Cidades stage, which runs around the rim of a dormant volcano.

Hänninen was a slender 0.1s faster than event leader and defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. The Finn now trails his Norwegian rival Mikkelsen by 15.4s.

Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in his Peugeot 207 S2000, which was sporting some bodywork damage at the end of the run.

Sepp Wiegand was fourth quickest with fellow German Hermann Gassner Jr just behind in fifth.

Oleksandr Saliuk reported struggling to see where he was going due to a misting windscreen in his Dream Team Ukraine M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. The hindrance meant he was more than two minutes slower than Hänninen through the 23.97-kilometre test.

The all-Romanian crew of Marco Tempestini and Dorin Pulpea are out after they ripped a wheel off their Subaru Impreza.

Crews are now heading back to Ponta Delgada for a 30-minute service halt. Stage eight, Coroa da Mata 2, gets underway at 15:36hrs local time.


SS7 Live Times: ircseries.com/live/SS7



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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
After SS8:

Weather causes cancellation Stage eight of SATA Rallye Açores, the repeat of the 8.25-kilometre Coroa da Mata test, has been cancelled due to the worsening conditions of the road caused by rain and mud.

It means the next action for crews on the opening event of the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season will be the São Brás stage, which goes live at 16:09hrs local time.

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Hunt Retires:

Young star Hunt annoyed following exit Harry Hunt has revealed his frustration after he retired from the lead of the IRC 2WD Cup on day two of SATA Rallye Açores.

The Briton, co-driven by Robbie Durant, held an advantage of 5.1s starting the fourth stage of the event following an impressive display on Thursday’s three stages but hit trouble shortly after the start of Friday’s first test.

“It was downhill, really slippery,” said Hunt, the IRC 2WD Cup champion in 2010. “We had a small off and just damaged the radiator. The car overheated and that was it. It’s so annoying because everything was going well but it’s one of those things. But all is not lost and we’ll come back stronger on the next event.”

Hunt’s demise has handed Paulo Maciel a comfortable lead. The Portuguese won the category on this event last season.

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After SS9:

Gassner snatches fourth from Wiegand Hermann Gassner Jr has seized the initiative in the battle to be the top German finisher on SATA Rallye Açores by going faster than countryman Sepp Wiegand through Friday’s final stage.

Gassner’s endeavour and a stall for Wiegand following a mistake at a junction means Gassner has moved ahead of Wiegand into fourth position on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier. The ŠKODA Fabia S2000 drivers are separated by 9.9s in the overall classification.

“It was so slippery with so much more water on the road but it was okay and I’m happy,” said Gassner Jr.

Like Wiegand, Dream Team Ukraine’s Oleksandr Saliuk also suffered a stall when the engine in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 cut out in a watersplash. He was more than 50s off the pace as a result.

Rally leader Andreas Mikkelsen completed day two by winning the stage in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia. The Norwegian was 0.8s faster than main rival Juho Hänninen through the test to extend his advantage out front to 16.2s.

Bryan Bouffier praised the strength of his Michelin tyres after he avoided a puncture on the rock-strewn stage in his Peugeot 207 S2000. He was third fastest to strengthen his grip on the final podium spot.


SS9 Times: ircseries.com/live/SS9


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Day 2

After SS10:


Mikkelsen continues to fly Andreas Mikkelsen has claimed his seventh stage win on SATA Rallye Açores after topping the times on Saturday’s opening test, the 19.60-kilometre Graminhais run.

The ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver was 1.7s faster than second-placed Juho Hänninen, in a factory Fabia Super 2000, and now leads overall by 17.9s with four stages of this thrilling Intercontinental Rally Challenge season opener remaining.

“This was a nice stage, such a pleasure to drive, it’s fantastic,” said Mikkelsen. “But we have to keep the pressure on and not relax. When you relax it goes very much slower so we try to keep a good pace.”

Finn Hänninen, meanwhile, admitted he was struggling to keep his Norwegian rival in check: “I really tried. It was slippery a few times and I lost the line but I couldn’t do much better. I will try to keep the pressure on him.”

Running first on the road, Sepp Wiegand said the warmer and drier conditions that have greeted the crews on day three contributed to a loose gravel surface. “In some parts it was very loose and the car was too much oversteer so I lost a bit of time,” said the ŠKODA Auto Deutschland ace.

Nevertheless, the young German has moved ahead of his countryman Hermann Gassner Jr into fourth overall after the Red Bull driver approached a hairpin too quickly and stalled his car’s engine. He was 11.3s slower than Wiegand and now trails his fellow Fabia driver by 1.4s in the overall classification.

Bryan Bouffier maintains his grip on third overall despite admitting to a mistake in his Peugeot 207 S2000 when he spun and had to reverse.

SS10 Times: ircseries.com/live/SS10

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After SS11:

Moura grows IRC Production Cup lead Ricardo Moura continues to dominate the IRC Production Cup following stage 11 of SATA Rallye Açores, the 22.02-kilometre Tronqueira test.

The multiple Azorean rally champion has been fastest in the category on every stage so far and leads the division by more than four minutes in the Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer he shares with co-driver Sancho Eiró.

“Our place is determined and when it’s safe I can have some fun,” said Moura. “But we are not taking any risks.”

In the overall classification ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen continues to lead with an advantage of 17.9s after he claimed his eighth stage win of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season opener.

The defending IRC champion was 1.7s faster than rival Juho Hänninen, who has bemoaned his decision to select hard compound tyres for the morning loop of stages, which still feature damp and slippery sections despite today’s warm weather.

Hermann Gassner Jr has also opted for the hard compound Michelin tyre this morning, which he said had resulted in him slipping 9.6s behind fourth-placed Sepp Wiegand.

Bryan Bouffier was third fastest through the stage in his Peugeot 207 S2000. He maintains his strong grip on the final podium spot.

Crews are now heading to the Grupo Marques superspecial stage prior to the midday service halt in Ponta Delgada.

SS11 Times: ircseries.com/live/SS11

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After SS12:

Saliuk shines on superspecial Andreas Mikkelsen might have claimed his ninth stage best on SATA Rallye Açores by winning the second run through the Grupo Marques superspecial but it was Dream Team Ukraine’s Oleksandr Saliuk who created a stir.

Saliuk, who is driving his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 in competition for the first time, was third fastest over the 2.20-kilometre course in front of thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

Juho Hänninen set the second fastest time in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 with Bryan Bouffier fourth quickest in his Peugeot 207 S2000. Sepp Wiegand topped the battle to be the top German driver when he beat countryman Hermann Gassner Jr by 0.1s.

Following a 30-minute service halt in Ponta Delgada, the penultimate stage of this all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge season-opener, Graminhais 2, gets underway at 14:38hrs local time.

SS12 Times / OverallSS12:



click: irc-results.com/rallye-acores-2012/Id=68

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After SS13:

Mikkelsen edges closer to victory Andreas Mikkelsen is one stage away from winning SATA Rallye Açores after he completed the penultimate test of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier with his lead firmly intact.

Mikkelsen’s performance, his 10th stage win of the all-gravel event, means his advantage out front over fellow ŠKODA driver Juho Hänninen now stands at 27.4s.

Bryan Bouffier reported no problems on his way to the third fastest time in his Peugeot 207 S2000 although it was a different story for Hermann Gassner Jr who completed the test with a punctured right-rear tyre.

“I hit something in the right rear and the car is not driving straight any more,” said the German ace, who falls 48.6s behind countryman Sepp Wiegand in the battle for fourth.

Wiegand reported losing a few seconds when he put a rear wheel of his Fabia into a ditch.





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After SS14:

Hanninen fastest as Mikkelsen wins Juho Hänninen has completed SATA Rallye Açores by winning the final stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season-opener. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Andreas Mikkelsen from claiming a standout victory.

Finn Hänninen covered the 22.02-kilometre Tronqueira test in a time of 18m33.1s to clinch second overall on the all-gravel event at the wheel of his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia. Mikkelsen was 2.3s slower through the test in his ŠKODA UK-backed example but wins the event by a margin of 25.1s.

Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in his Peugeot 207 S2000 with Sepp Wiegand fourth quickest and Hermann Gassner Jr fifth.

Ricardo Moura clinched the IRC Production Cup laurels in sixth overall.




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Mikkelsen makes history with Açores victory Andreas Mikkelsen has made history by becoming the first driver to win three rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in succession by claiming victory on SATA Rallye Açores today (Saturday).

The ŠKODA Motorsport ace’s winning run extends back to last year when he triumphed in Scotland and Cyprus, rounds 10 and 11 of the 2011 IRC season. His triumph on the mid-Atlantic archipelago brings his tally to three in a row.

"This is the perfect start to the season, I am so happy for the team and this is perfect result for ŠKODA,” said Mikkelsen, who headed fellow ŠKODA driver Juho Hänninen and Peugeot’s Bryan Bouffier at the end of almost 200 kilometres of thrilling action.

Luca Rossetti actually won the first four IRC events he contested between 2007 and 2008 to earn the nickname ‘Mr 100 Per Cent’. However, because they weren’t on consecutive rallies, Mikkelsen takes the record, having been tied on two wins in a row with Giandomenico Basso, Jan Kopecký, Freddy Loix, Kris Meeke and Rossetti.


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