Andreas Mikkelsen says the latest development Hankook tyres have helped him find more pace from his Ford Fiesta S2000 - with the Norwegian running a close second on the Rally of Scotland.
Mikkelsen is just 12 seconds adrift of Juho Hanninen's lead Skoda Fabia S2000 on the Perth-based event's opening day. The 21-year-old moved into second place when transmission trouble his leader Guy Wilks' Skoda, but Mikkelsen is within striking distance of his maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge success.
"The morning went really well," he said. "We had no problems at all - except for hitting a deer on the first stage.
"We have a new tyre from Hankook here and it's making a lot of difference for us. It has a softer sidewall on the tyre, which means we can run with the car stiffer, meaning we don't have to compromise the set-up of the car at all.
"Okay, we could still do with a little more lateral grip, but really the tyre is a good step forwards."