IRCOff Road

Hanninen Holds Narrow Lead Over Mikkelsen In Azores

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Juho Hanninen remains in the lead of Rally Azores at the end of Day 2, but Andreas Mikkelsen has closed up to be just 1.3 seconds behind the Finn after winning all three stages on the third and final loop of the day.

Starting the day with an advantage of 4.3s after the opening three stages last evening, Hanninen stretched this to 9.7 over SS4 and SS6 (SS5 was cancelled due to the presence of livestock on the stage). Mikkelsen meanwhile recovered from his power steering failure on the opening evening to move back into second place past Bruno Magalhaes.

Mikkelsen won SS7, but Hanninen then took SS8 to stretch his lead to 10.1s. SS9 became the second stage of the day to be cancelled due to delays in recovering a number of stranded cars from the first pass through the stage.

Mikkelsen then won all of the stages on the final loop of three to close up to just 1.3s behind Hanninen.

Magalhaes remains in third place overall, 50 seconds off the lead and just 2.4 seconds ahead of Jan Kopekcy. Bryan Bouffier has moved up from eighth to fifth place during the course of the day. He moved past local driver Ricardo Moura on the opening stage of the day, and took another place when Guy Wilks slid off the road and into retirement on SS6.

Bouffier later benefited from a penalty handed out to Patrik Sandell. The Swede was given a one minute penalty for checking in early to the cancelled SS9, a penalty the Swede feels was handed out in error. It dropped him to seventh behind Bouffier and Moura.

The top ten is completed by Moura's nearest rivals in the Production Cup. Vitor Lopes is eighth, with Vitor Pascoal ninth and Sergio Silva in tenth. Toshi Arai had held tenth overnight but stopped on the day's opening stage with an electrical fault on his R4-spec Impreza.

Paulo Maciel continues to lead the 2WD category, nearest rival and defending champion Harry Hunt going off and losing five minutes on SS6.

Top ten positions after SS12:

Pos. No Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1 2 Juho Hanninen Skoda Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 1:07:45.8
2 5 Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK Skoda Fabia S2000 +1.3
3 8 Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal Peugeot 207 S2000 +49.8
4 3 Jan Kopecky Skoda Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +54.7
5 1 Bryan Bouffier Peugeot France Peugeot 207 S2000 +2:20.1
6 9 Ricardo Moura Privateer Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +3:12.8
7 6 Patrik Sandell Skoda Sweden Skoda Fabia S2000 +3:20.8
8 15 Vitor Lopes Privateer Subaru Impreza Sti +4:49.7
9 16 Vitor Pascoal Privateer Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +5:56.9
10 19 Sergio Silva Privateer Subaru Impreza Sti +6:11.2
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