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Škoda UK Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen is hoping to extend his lead in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with another successful run on the San Marino Rally (July 6-7), having won the event last year en route to becoming Italian Gravel Rally champion.

However, with only 10 miles (16kms) of this year’s route the same as in 2011, he and co-driver Ola Fløene will have to be at their best in their factory-prepared Fabia S2000 to repeat last year’s result.

Whilst virtually all of this year’s San Marino Rally’s six different stages will be new to Andreas, he has a good feel for the picturesque mountain region and has a knack of being instantly quick on unfamiliar territory. After flying to Bologna airport directly from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Andreas will have a full day’s pre-event test in the hills outside San Marino on Tuesday.

As on all Italian rallies, ŠKODA UK Motorsport has a secret weapon in the form of team co-ordinator Dario D’Esposito, who has extensive experience of the San Marino Rally – having won the event twice with Andrea Aghini in 1998 and 2002.

Andreas: “We head to San Marino leading the IRC and we have this and another really strong gravel rally in Romania coming up, so the aim is to come away from both events with as many championship points as possible. I feel very comfortable and confident in the Fabia S2000, and whilst no rally is easy, we have a great opportunity to make the most of what could turn out to be a decisive time in this year’s series. We won in San Marino last year, and while this year’s route is basically all new, I have a good feel for the area and I’m looking forward to returning.”

The 40th running of the San Marino Rally contains 13 special stages (12 gravel and one Tarmac) totalling 118.2 miles (190.3kms). The event starts at 09.45 on Friday 6 July. Leg 1 contains the two longest stages of the rally, with the 27 mile (43.48km) stage loop repeated in the afternoon. The day ends with SS5, a 4 mile (6.43km) Tarmac spectator stage in San Marino, that will be run in reserve order and on gravel tyres. The day ends at 21.44, after 58 miles (93.39kms) of stages.

Saturday’s Leg 2 begins with a 45 minute service, followed by a 23 mile (37.12km) loop of three stages. The loop is repeated in the afternoon, before a third and final pass over two of the stages completes the 60.2 miles (96.91kms) of action. The finish ceremony is in San Marino at 20.00.

Eurosport will broadcast recorded highlights of the event. Check TV listings for times and more details.

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