Sanremo IRC: Giandomenico Basso in command after day one
Giandomenico Basso dominated day one of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge's Sanremo event
The Italian was fastest on three of Friday's four stages, and by the end of the 44-kilometre, after-dark, Ronde test he had built a lead of 25.6 seconds.
Jan Kopecky holds second place in the factory Skoda, feeling that Basso's turbocharged Regional Rally Car Ford has a technical advantage over his normally-aspirated Super 2000 Fabia on the Sanremo stages.
Kopecky's former champion team-mate Juho Hanninen crashed out on Ronde.
Paolo Andreucci held third for a while, before easing off to prioritise his title hopes in the Italian series - for which Sanremo also counts. Andreucci now has a clear run at the crown as two mistakes on the first two stages ruled out his rival Umberto Scandola.
Andreucci is now sixth, behind Alessandro Perico, Stefano Albertini and series returnee Craig Breen, making his first IRC appearance since the Targa Florio crash in which his co-driver Gareth Roberts lost his life in June.
IRC points leader Andreas Mikkelsen is absent for a third successive round, but given his championship cushion he remains on course to clinch the title whether he attends next month's Cyprus finale or not. The Norwegian has prioritised his World Rally Championship programme with Volkswagen's S2000 Skodas in recent months.
Leading positions after SS4:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Giandomenico Basso Movisport Ford 58m59.3s 2. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 25.6s 3. Alessandro Perico United Peugeot + 1m06.6s 4. Stefano Albertini Racing Lions Peugeot + 1m12.9s 5. Craig Breen Sainteloc Peugeot + 1m13.3s 6. Paolo Andreucci Racing Lions Peugeot + 1m19.5s 7. Simone Campedelli Procar Citroen + 3m14.9s 8. Frigyes Turan Solberg Ford + 3m18.9s 9. Roberto Vescovi Asd Renault + 3m35.7s 10. Rudy Michelini Movisport Citroen + 3m43.0s
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