Guy Wilks holds a narrow lead over Juho Hanninen and Andreas Mikkelsen following SS5 of an action-packed Rally of Scotland, while a puncture has dropped Kris Meeke from first to fourth
Peugeot UK driver Meeke had taken the lead from Wilks by winning today's opener Craigvinean - and his advantage then stretched to 18 seconds when Wilks spun on the following Drummond Hill stage. The Skoda UK Fabia sustained cosmetic damage to the front end following an impact with a rock face.
But the advantage then swung back towards Wilks when Meeke hit a rock and picked up a left-rear puncture just one kilometre into the Errochty stage. He pressed on to the finish, losing nearly a minute and putting him 38s behind new leader Wilks.
Newly-crowned Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Hanninen (Skoda) was frustrated with his pace and errors on SS3, but rebounded by winning both Drummond Hill and Errochty, bringing him to within 5.4s of Wilks, while Mikkelsen is producing his best performance yet in the Hankook Ford and is just 12.6s off the lead - despite a brush with a deer on Craigvinean.
Thierry Neuville completes the current top five in the second Kronos Peugeot, the Belgian driving cautiously as he learns the Scottish forest stages.
Proton's hopes of repeating its 2009 Scotland podium have already been dashed. A disastrous SS3 saw Alister McRae stop for over 11 minutes with an alternator wiring problem, while both Tom Cave and Keith Cronin were delayed by punctures. Although all three continued, McRae has now come to a halt again on Errochty.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Guy Wilks Skoda 33m53.2s 2. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 5.4s 3. Andreas Mikkelsen Ford + 12.6s 4. Kris Meeke Peugeot + 38.4s 5. Thierry Neuville Peugeot + 57.7s 6. David Bogie Mitsubishi + 1m36.8s 7. Jonathan Greer Mitsubishi + 2m05.3s 8. Keith Cronin Proton + 2m19.9s 9. Tom Cave Proton + 2m29.6s 10. Daniel Oliveira Peugeot + 3m14.6s
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