Kopecky, from Czech Republic, had to wait to be credited with the fastest time through Thursday night’s opening run in Palermo while event officials considered the time recorded by Rashid Al-Ketbi in a similar SKODA Fabia Super 2000.
Reports suggested Al-Ketbi missed two hairpins after making a small mistake on the slippery surface in his Skydive Dubai Rally Team entry.
As a result, he was denied his first IRC stage win and will start Friday’s stages languishing in 38th position overall but more than capable of making up some of the lost time.
“It was very slippery in one corner,” Mikkelsen said, “so I was a bit out of line and maybe we lost one second there. But there are still 10 more stages to go so it’s no problem.”
Six-time Targa Florio winner Paolo Andreucci finished behind the pair in his Peugeot Italia 207 Super 2000.
“The stage was dirty and I had to use the clutch a lot on the tight corners, which is not so good,” said the Italian legend.
In the battle for IRC Production Cup honours, Subaru Impreza driver Marco Tempestini heads Robert Consani in a Renault Mégane RS by a slender 0.1s. Simone Campedelli leads the IRC 2WD Cup standings by 2.7s.