Andreas Mikkelsen finally secured his second victory of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season with an utterly dominant performance on the Sibiu Rally in Romania.
Predictions that the event would be the IRC's equivalent of the Acropolis and jokes that "Dakar setups" would be required proved close to the mark, with the rally proving extremely punishing.
Mikkelsen was not only fastest, but also had the smoothest run. A nerve-wracking fuel pump change in Friday evening's service and a puncture on Saturday morning were the only worries as he won by nearly six minutes for Skoda UK. Every other front-runner had myriad dramas, either with car damage, poor visibility in Friday afternoon's dust clouds, or both.
Sepp Wiegand looked to be on course for second until a suspension breakage on Saturday morning denied the young German what would have been his first podium at international level. That meant Patrik Flodin came through to second despite a broken wheel dropping him to last on stage two. It was a first IRC podium for both the former Production World Rally Championship frontrunner and his Petter Solberg-run team.
WRC legend Francois Delecour completed the podium, despite suspension problems on his Munaretto Peugeot costing him a lot of time on both Saturday loops.
Pos Driver Car Time
1. Andras Mikkelsen Skoda 2h13m47.4s
2. Patrik Flodin Ford + 5m32.9s
3. Francois Delecour Peugeot + 11m52.2s
4. Vitaliy Pushkar Mitsubishi + 13m46.5s
5. Edwin Keleti Mitsubishi + 14m40.9s
6. Robert Consani Renault + 17m12.4s
7. V.Porcisteanu Mitsubishi + 18m00.6s
8. Harry Hunt Citroen + 18m16.6s
9. Vlad Cosma Citroen + 20m42.3s
10. Asja Zupanc Mitsubishi + 21m03.3s