Jan Kopecky holds a narrow early lead after the first loop of stages on the Rally Islas Canarias, round two of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge
The works Skoda driver is just 0.4 seconds ahead of Kronos Peugeot's rising young star Thierry Neuville.
The Belgian is the only driver in the top four not driving a works Skoda, with reigning champion Juho Hanninen and Freddy Loix also within 2.5s of the lead.
Peugeot UK's Guy Wilks was quickest on both the Gran Canaria kart track used for SS1 and third stage Ingenio, but a slower time on SS2 Santa Lucia means he is fifth, 10.4s down on Kopecky.
Andreas Mikkelsen runs a careful sixth, keen to score on this rally after his Monte Carlo disaster, with Monte winner Bryan Bouffier not happy to be only seventh at present.
Peugeot Portugal's Bruno Magalhaes is eighth, ahead of top Proton driver Giandomenico Basso. His team-mate P-G Andersson was kicking himself for a half-spin on the kart track stage and is currently just outside the top 10.
Leading positions after SS3:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jan Kopecky Skoda 23m54.9s 2. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 2.4s 3. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 0.8s 4. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda + 1.5s 5. Guy Wilks Kronos/Peugeot UK + 20.4s 6. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 17.1s 7. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 18.8s 8. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 23.7s 9. Giandomenico Basso Proton + 41.1s 10. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 44.9s
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