Bryan Bouffier made an excellent start to the ninth round of the European Rally Championship by establishing a 12.3s lead after the opening loop of stages
The triple Polish champion adapted to the slippery conditions from the get-go and completed the shortened Talty and Baranowo stages - due to damage caused by heavy rain - with a 5.8s advantage, which he further extended in this morning's final test.
Local hero Robert Kubica has also impressed in his home round by setting the quickest time of the 25.1-kilometre Mragowo stage which duly promoted him to second overall.
Kajetan Kateanowicz currently occupies third place after excelling on his debut in a new-generation Ford R5. He is 4.2s adrift of his fellow countryman.
Current championship leader Jan Kopecky, who is running first on the road, is having a rather torrid time and is embarking on a cautious approach to the event after encountering deep ruts and muddy conditions.
He currently sits in fourth place, ahead of Michal Solowow who is making a rare appearance after semi-retiring from the sport.
Craig Breen is seventh and beginning to find his form as he adapts to life with his new co-driver Lara Venneste.
The Irishman set the fourth quickest time on the Mragowo stage, despite beaching his Peugeot on a right-hand corner near the finish.
Leading positions after SS3: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Bryan Bouffier Delta Peugeot 26m36.0 2. Robert Kubica Citroen + 12.3s 3. Kajetan Kajetanowicz Ford R5 + 16.5s 4. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 41.7s 5. Michal Solowow Ford RRC + 42.8s 6. Krzysztof Holowczyc Ford R5 + 45.5s 7. Craig Breen Peugeot + 47.2s 8. Michal Kosciuszko Ford R5 + 57.8s 9. Martin Kangur Ford R5 + 1m00.8s 10. Zbigniew Staniszewski Ford S2000 + 1m14.1s
The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season