Despite heavy overnight rain, the stage surface was largely dry and several drivers were caught out after they selected tyre compounds that were better suited to wet conditions, which had been anticipated.
Juho Hänninen’s decision to run on a dry-weather Michelin tyre with cuts to provide additional grip paid dividends when the Finn went 6.6s faster than closest rival Andreas Mikkelsen to move to the top of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge leaderboard in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
“It was more drier than I expected and we have to see how the tyres will be on the next one,” said the 10-time IRC event winner. “I tried to come smoother through the stage.”
Mikkelsen bemoaned his decision to run with an intermediate tyre. The ŠKODA UK ace said: “It was completely the wrong tyre choice but I was happy with my driving because I was neat as I could be.”
Overnight leader Tomáš Kostka was third fastest but slips 7.3s behind Hänninen in the IRC standings in his privateer Fabia. Behind Irish privateer Robert Barrable, Roman Kresta was fifth fastest with Jan Kopecký sixth, 18.3s adrift of ŠKODA Motorsport team-mate Hänninen having selected wet tyres. “It was very difficult but this is the risk. It was raining a lot in the night but now it’s completely dry. We just stay on the road and try to improve it.”
Patrik Flodin was handed a 10s time penalty for leaving service in Otrokovice this morning one minute behind schedule while his Petter Solberg Engineering mechanics raced to replace a broken alternator, which failed on Friday’s opening superspecial stage. He was seventh quickest in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.
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