Jan Kopecky took his second Intercontinental Rally Challenge win in succession in thrilling style as he fended off Thierry Neuville in the series' closest ever finish after Andreas Mikkelsen crashed out of the lead two stages from the end in Hungary.
Skoda UK driver Mikkelsen had looked assured of victory on the IRC's inaugural Mecsek Rally as he pulled clear of Kopecky's works Skoda this morning. But Mikkelsen drove too cautiously on the first stage of the final loop, and then crashed when caught out by a patch of gravel on the penultimate test. Both Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Floene were unhurt, although wreckage from their crash caused the stage to be stopped for a while.
Although that put Kopecky into the lead, Kronos Peugeot's Thierry Neuville was flying onto his tail with a string of stage wins. In the end he missed out on his second IRC victory by just 0.8sec, while Kopecky's triumph also gave him the championship lead.
Freddy Loix (BFO Skoda) had fought with Kopecky and Neuville at first but could not keep up with their pace in the second half of the event and finished a minute down in third.
Bryan Bouffier was a lonely fourth in the Peugeot France entry, with Red Bull Skoda's Herrmann Gassner Jr making great strides on the final day to come through to fifth ahead of top local and Production driver Gyorgy Aschenbrenner.
Sometime World Rally Championship entrant Frigyes Turan looked set to be the most successful home driver as he briefly put his Ford into third place, before falling back and crashing out. Guy Wilks was also an early retirement with an engine issue on his Peugeot UK 207.
Leading finishers after SS14:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Jan Kopecky Skoda 2h00m06.7s
2. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 0.8s
3. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda + 1m00.0s
4. Bryan Bouffier PH Peugeot + 1m35.6s
5. Hermann Gassner Jr Red Bull Skoda + 2m32.5s
6. Gyorgy Aschenbrenner Martevo Mitsubishi + 2m38.2s
7. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 3m05.6s
8. Robert Butor M3 Auto Peugeot + 3m16.8s
9. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 3m51.7s
10. Beppo Harrach Mitsubishi (private) + 4m14.0s