The Rally Cyprus was a momentous occasion, being the last time that an event would run under the banner of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. It also gave us two cracking performances.
As expected, Andreas Mikkelsen took the initiative in his Škoda UK-funded Fabia S2000 as he determined to take his third win of the year to crown a season which saw him become the only two-time champion in the IRC’s history. But it was not to be: a pair of punctures on the first full day put him two minutes in arrears of the Ford Fiesta RRC driven by Qatar’s number one driver, Nasser Al-Attiyah.
A thunderous recovery drive saw Mikkelsen claim eight stage victories and close to within 49 seconds of the Qatari, but more punctures blunted his challenge on the final day and the Norwegian was forced to settle for second place – albeit enough to secure the title. The final stage saw Mikkelsen hand over the steering wheel to his longtime co-driver Ola Fløene, who used his privilege to drive the last competitive kilometres of his career before heading into retirement.
It was a fitting salute for Fløene and a great end to the inspiring story of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Be ready to see much more of both Mikkelsen and Al-Attiyah in the 2013 World Rally Championship.