Jan Kopecky's lead in Rally Zlin is up to 19.7 seconds after problems for several of his closest rivals on Saturday afternoon
Skoda UK's Andreas Mikkelsen had been chasing works Skoda driver Kopecky this morning, but suffered a puncture on SS9, Semetin, and fell to sixth place.
Erstwhile third-place runner Guy Wilks (Peugeot UK) also had a puncture on the same stage and took longer to change the wheel, causing him to plunge to 12th.
That moved Juho Hanninen up to second in a factory Skoda one-two, despite the champion having a slow puncture of his own on the stage. He shares the position with BFO Skoda's Freddy Loix, who has raised his game this afternoon and was quickest on three of the four stages in the loop.
Loix's burst of pace has pushed Bryan Bouffier down to fourth in what is now the best of the Peugeots.
Thierry Neuville remains fifth in his Kronos Peugeot despite losing time with a trip off the road on SS6.
Further back, WRC Academy frontrunner Craig Breen has been impressing greatly, with top-six stage times on both SS8 and SS9 bringing him up to eighth place.
Leading positions after SS9:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jan Kopecky Skoda 1h14m28.0s 2. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 19.7s 3. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda + 19.7s 4. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 23.4s 5. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Benelux + 1m51.3s 6. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 2m09.5s 7. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 2m25.5s 8. Craig Breen Ford (private) + 2m32.1s 9. Roman Kresta Adell Mogul Skoda + 2m46.0s 10. PG Andersson Proton + 2m50.2s
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