Kopecky takes over Asturias lead

Skoda driver Jan Kopecky leads at the halfway point of the final day of the Principe de Asturias Rally, round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge

Kopecky takes over Asturias lead

If the Czech wins the all-asphalt event, he is set to overtake Peugeot UK driver Kris Meeke for the lead of the championship, with two rounds remaining.

Conditions were misty during the second morning of the Asturias event, based in Fernando Alonso's home city of Oviedo, with some patches of dense fog on the opening stages.

Abarth driver Giandomenico Basso started the day in the lead, but came to grief on SS12 when he spun. As the car was rotating he tried to select reverse gear, but this damaged the gearbox and he lost more than eight minutes trying to get going again. Currently he lies eighth, just inside the points.

This promoted Kopecky, who had got past Skoda Spain driver Alberto Hevia on the first stage of the day, into the lead. Hevia is currently just 9.5 seconds behind Kopecky as the drivers head into the afternoon's loop of three stages.

More than two minutes behind the leading duo is reigning IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz, in third. However, it seems likely that the Peugeot Belgium driver will be asked to move aside for his Peugeot UK colleague, Meeke, who is challenging for the championship.

If this is the case and Meeke finishes third behind Kopecky and Hevia, he will be second in the championship with a one point deficit to Kopecky at the end of the event.

Proton driver Guy Wilks hit trouble this morning, having climbed as high as fifth place yesterday. The Englishman went off on some loose gravel - which he says was put there deliberately by spectators - in a braking area on today's second stage.

His Satria Neo S2000 became stuck on a bank and Wilks had to use the car's jack in order to lever it out, losing 15 minutes and any hope of points in the process. Former World Championship star Toni Gardemeister will also take zero points away from Spain, having crashed his Opel Corsa S2000 beyond immediate repair yesterday.

The rally is due to finish at 1607 local time today, after 15 stages and 253.73 competitive kilometres.

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Basso leads Asturias after leg one
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