Mikkelsen celebrates victory on Rally of Scotland

Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen has won the 2011 RACMSA Rally of Scotland after dominating the Perthshire and Stirlingshire-based event - the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge - from early on.After some 200km (120 miles) of timed competitive forest stages that have followed since Friday night's ceremonial start in front of Stirling Castle, Skoda UK-backed Mikkelsen finished almost half a minute clear of his nearest challenger, Finland's Juho Hanninen - the pair of them driving Skoda Fabia S2000s. France's Bryan Bouffier took third in his Peugeot 207 S2000.Skoda has now secured a hat-trick of wins in Scotland after Guy Wilks and Hanninen steered its Fabia model to victory on 2009 and 2010's events respectively. For the record, Durham charger Wilks failed to finish the event this time - now driving a Peugeot he set the early pace on Friday night's opening stages but on Saturday lost more than six minutes with a spin into a ditch. Having clawed his way back into the points he then retired on this afternoon's very last stage when he damaged his car.The result means that Mikkelsen, Hanninen and Bouffier along with the Czech Republic's Jan Kopecky plus Belgian pair Thierry Neuville and Freddy Loix can all still be crowned 2011 IRC Champion in the championship's final round in Cyprus.Meanwhile there was disappointment for the top Scottish names in front of their home crowd. Lanark's Alistair McRae, making a rare appearance outside the Asia-Pacific championship, retired on Saturday morning when his Proton suffered mechanical problems. Dumfries's David Bogie had then been looking good to end the rally as the top finisher in the Group N production class only for a wheel to come off his Mitsubishi. Mull's John MacCrone did provide the locals with some cheer, though, by winning the junior 1.6-litre two-wheel-drive class in his Ford Fiesta.For Mikkelsen it was all smiles as he completed the event's final stage in front of thousands of spectators in the grand grounds of Scone Palace near Perth this afternoon, more so as the victory was his first in the IRC.The 22-year-old beamed: "I finished second here last year and arrived with great memories but this, of course, is even better. Even with the mud we have experienced I have enjoyed this event so much. The stages are so fast and so flowing - this time there was not quite so much grip as in 2010 but it was very enjoyable sliding the car about.

"It's been a season of ups and downs for me, but the results have been getting very strong lately and I've come close to the win a few times. Now it's happened. There were still some dramas. I had two punctures today - the second one made the car very hard to drive but I was lucky as it was right at the end of the stage. To cross that finish line at Scone Palace was the best feeling I've had in a rally car so far."Result: 2011 RACMSA Rally Challenge (provisional):1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (NOR/NOR) Skoda Fabia S2000 1h 55m 17.2s2. Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula (FIN/FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 +26.4s3. Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (FRA/FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m35.3s4. Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (IRL/GBR) Ford Fiesta S2000 +2m05.1s 5. Jan Kopecky/Petr Stary (CZE/CZE) Skoda Fabia S2000 +2m11.7s6. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m10.4s 7. Toni Gardemeister/Tapio Suommen (FIN/FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 +3m11.5s8. Alastair Fisher/Daniel Barritt (GBR/GBR) Ford Fiesta S2000 +4m 59.9s9. Toshihiro Arai/Dale Moscatt (JPN/AUS) Subaru Impreza +8m17.6s10. Matthias Kahle/Peter Gobel (DEU/DEU) Skoda Fabia S2000 +9m36.1s