Driving a Skoda Fabia S2000, Mikkelsen led from Thursday night’s opening special stage in Cardiff Bay and never looked truly threatened. “It’s a great result and when Ketomaa went out the pressure came off and I was able to take it easy,” said the 21-year-old from Norway.
Behind, Pons adopted a low-risk strategy throughout the event to take the points he needed to secure the S-WRC title spoils in his Nupel Global Racing Ford Fiesta S2000.
“It wasn’t easy and I had to be careful on each stage even though I didn’t have to push,” said Pons, who was eventually classified in third place behind Irishman Craig Breen. “This title is very important for my sponsors and also for me and my team. I am very happy to win.”
Pons, from Spain, began the season with a brace of victories and has led the drivers’ standings throughout.
“It has been a perfect season for us,” Pons continued. “This championship has been very important for the WRC and there have been a lot of good drivers and a lot of good battles. It has not been easy.”
Ketomaa’s bid to win the S-WRC title ended when he rolled into retirement on Sunday’s opening stage. The Finn needed to win the event in order to take the championship honours from Pons and was on a charge when he went off the road in his Fiesta.
Breen moved into second on the penultimate stage in his Fiesta after an impressive showing by the young Irish driver, who was eligible for S-WRC points for the first time. “This is just a dream, a complete dream,” said Breen. “Every [pace] note was pin point perfect and I’m really pleased.”
Patrik Sandell’s recovery from his driveshaft failure on Friday afternoon brought him to within 5.2 seconds of snatching third place from Pons. Although he had dropped out of contention for the drivers’ title, Breen’s second place and the points Sandell accrued for fourth was enough to hand his Raimund Baumschlager-run Red Bull Rally Team the WRC Cup for S2000 Teams.
“I pushed as hard as I could and I’m really pleased for the Red Bull team,” said Sandell, who finishes second in the final table, ahead of Czech Martin Prokop, who was competing in Wales having contested his seven permitted events. Ketomaa was classified fourth.
Michal Kosciuszko was the last of five finishers in the S-WRC division, despite his Fabia suffering from an intermittent power problem, caused by a broken injection coil, on the final morning.
“The engine was cutting so it was not really perfect,” said the Polish driver. “We switched to the emergency fuel pump during the [first] stage but it didn’t help.”
Follow this link to see the final points classification in the FIA S-WRC Drivers' championship.
Follow this link to see the final points classification in the FIA WRC Cup for Super 2000 Teams.