The only competitive element of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier to take place in the Republic of San Marino, the stage was run in reverse order under the cover of darkness.
It was always going to be a huge challenge for the crews who had to tackle the 6.43-kilometre stage with gravel tyres. But their task was increased following heavy rain in the build up to the stage going live.
Driving a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, Mikkelsen set a time of 4m54.6s through the stage, which was 1.7s faster than the time managed by his closest rival for victory Giandomenico Basso. It means Mikkelsen’s advantage over the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC driver stands at 4.1s starting day two.
IRC Production Cup leader Jarkko Nikara continues to impress after he demoted his fellow Finn Juha Salo for fifth overall by setting a faster stage time.
Saturday’s itinerary begins with a 45-minute service halt in San Marino followed by the opening special stage, the 6.82-kilometre Monte Benedetto run, getting underway at 10:23hrs local time.