Action aplenty in first two stages of IRC’s Circuit of Ireland Rally

The third round of the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge series has started off strongly, with drivers pushing their rally machines to their limits on the slippery and greasy asphalt roads of the first two stages of the Circuit of Ireland Rally.

With rain falling, and all cars equipped with dry asphalt tyres, the crews were forced to attack the corners with aggression yet control their pace to preserve their car for the remaining 13 stages of this rally.

After the first two stages, it is Skoda UK’s Andreas Mikkelsen in the lead. The Skoda Fabia S2000 driver has a 5.5 second advantage over Juho Hanninen and factory Skoda team-mate Jan Kopecky in third just 9.6 seconds adrift of Mikkelsen’s pace. Local ace Craig Breen, in his first competitive outing in a Peugeot 207 S2000, is fourth overall.

SS1 saw the first 21 cars covered by only 10.0 seconds, but that stage was only 1.90km long. SS2 was a 13.03kim speed test, and crews look forward to a 25.29km test for SS3, a repeat of SS2’s 13.03km route and the day’s rallying finishes off with what will be a technical and treacherous 25.29 repeat of Legane.

Overall Results after SS2:
01) A. Mikkelsen (Skoda) – 10m 27.6s
02) J. Hanninen (Skoda) + 05.5s
03) J. Kopecky (Skoda) + 09.6s
04) C. Breen (Peugeot) + 19.1s
05) S. Wiegand (Skoda) + 20.7s
06) M. Arzeno (Peugeot) +24.7s
07) R. Barrable (Skoda) + 26.1s
08) A. Fisher (Ford) + 29.2s
09) M. Donnelly (Mitsubishi) + 40.3s
10) J. Moffett (Mitsubishi) + 44.5s