Attended by upwards of 200 guests, the IRC Awards Ceremony in the French capital brought the curtain down on the all-action series after seven hugely successful years.
After receiving his trophy for winning the coveted IRC title for the second time in succession, Mikkelsen said: “I’m feeling fantastic. I’ve just completed two fantastic years in the IRC with ŠKODA. It was a big opportunity coming with them in 2011 and I felt like I’d won the series when I got that drive.
"We’ve been very successful and won two championships. These years with ŠKODA UK have meant everything to me. They have been two fantastic years and when I look back at them they are the two best years of my life.”
Mikkelsen’s performances during 2012 – he was twice a winner and was fastest on more stages than any other driver – earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Trophy Driver of the Year, which Colin’s father Jimmy presented.
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek collected the IRC manufacturers’ award for the Czech firm with Bruno Famin and John Steele joining him on stage as the representatives of Peugeot (second) and M-Sport (third) respectively. Meanwhile, Patrice Ratti, the CEO of Renault Sport Technologies, accepted the IRC 2WD Cup makes’ award on behalf of the French company. Honda (second) and M-Sport (third) were also recognised.
Robert Consani picked up his award for winning the IRC Production Cup title, accompanied by his IRC Production Cup-winning navigator Nicolas Klinger, while Harry Hunt and Robbie Durant were in attendance to receive their IRC 2WD Cup accolades. For co-driver Durant, the event marked his first public appearance since he injured his back on a crash on the Mabanol Sliven Rally in the autumn. Fortunately the Briton is on the road to recovery and eying a return to action in 2013.
Michal Hrabánek and Bruno Famin made special presentations to Laurent-Eric Le Lay and Eurosport managing director Olivier Fisch. Tyre firm Yokohama honoured the IRC with a commemorative painting handed to IRC Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas.
Michelin’s achievements in the IRC were also recognised, while the various event promoters also received trophies for their efforts during 2012 from Eurosport Events’ Motorsport Development Director François Ribeiro.
Guests were treated to several spectacular action sequence videos produced by Gilbert Roy and his team from Eurosport Events with footage from 2012 – including a demonstration of pioneering SimulCam technology – and the previous six IRC seasons proving hugely popular.
The following awards were also presented:
IRC runner-up driver: Jan Kopecký
IRC runner-up co-driver: Pavel Dresler
IRC third-placed driver: Juho Hänninen
IRC third-placed co-driver: Mikko Markkula
IRC runner-up manufacturer: PeugeotIRC third-placed manufacturer: M-SportIRC Production Cup runner-up driver: Toshi Arai
IRC Production Cup runner-up co-driver: Dale Moscatt
IRC Production Cup third-placed driver: Andreas Aigner
IRC Production Cup third-placed co-driver: Dorin Pulpea
IRC 2WD Cup runner-up driver: Robert Consani
IRC 2WD Cup runner-up co-driver: David Moynihan
IRC 2WD Cup third-placed driver: Martin Kangur
IRC 2WD Cup third-placed co-driver: Nicolas Klinger
IRC 2WD Cup runner-up manufacturer: Honda
IRC 2WD Cup third-placed manufacturer: M-Sport
The Czech has a long history with ŠKODA and has achieved considerable success driving Fabia Super 2000s.
His agreement for 2013 includes a programme of events in the FIA European Rally Championship alongside co-driver Pavel Dresler.
He said: “Staying in the ŠKODA Motorsport team was a clear priority for both Pavel and me. We will again rely on the great support that we have always received, and it is a big challenge for us to continue putting in top-class performances for the team.”
Huff clinched the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Macau recently while Mikkelsen make it two Intercontinental Rally Challenge titles in succession on the season-closing Cyprus Rally earlier this month.
Both championships are promoted by Eurosport Events and, back in May during the IRC-counting Giru di Corscia-Tour de Corse, both drivers had a rare opportunity to meet.
Mikkelsen (pictured right with Huff) was contesting the event in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, while Huff was visiting the rally as a guest of Eurosport Events.
During his visit, Briton Huff enjoyed a run through a stage in a course car and visited Eurosport’s live television compound. Meanwhile, Norwegian Mikkelsen finished fifth after being delayed going off the road and picking up a puncture.