Hanninen wins Circuit of Ireland

Published Saturday, 07 April 2012
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Juho Hanninen has won the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, completing the final stage with the fastest time to secure victory by a margin of 44.2 seconds over Andreas Mikkelsen.

Hanninen wins Circuit of Ireland
Driver Steve Perez at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast on Friday night (© Pacemaker)

Speaking at the finish in Armagh on Saturday evening, Hanninen said: "It was one of my toughest victories but also one of my most enjoyable because all the time I was fighting, fighting with Andreas.

"We had to push on every stage but in the end it was he who was unlucky and not me because I think it was about luck on this rally because the changing weather conditions were very difficult and it was easy to get caught out."

Mikkelsen and Jan Kopecky, Hanninen's SKODA teammate, shared the second fastest time.

Mikkelsen fought back into contention following an overshoot on stage eight. He also hit trouble on the first run through the Lisburn test.

He said: "It's disappointing because it was a great fight and this is a rally I wanted to win. But we have made a good start to the season by leading the IRC championship with one win and two second places, so for this reason we have to be happy."

Irishman Craig Breen was fourth fastest in his Saintéloc Racing Peugeot 207. He was on course for an even faster time, but a build-up of smoke in his car put him off his stride.

Robert Barrable was fifth fastest, with Mathieu Arzeno sixth quickest in his Peugeot.

Sepp Wiegand overshot a junction in his SKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia - but still managed to go eighth fastest.

Garry Jennings clinched the IRC Production Cup spoils, with fellow Northern Irish driver Marty McCormack landing IRC 2WD Cup honours.

© UTV News
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