Wilks' puncture lets Skodas escape

The opening leg of day two of the Rally Russia, round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, brought frustration for the Mellors Elliott Motorsport Proton Satria of Guy Wilks, allowing the dominant Skodas to extend their advantage

Wilks' puncture lets Skodas escape

Wilks was flying in third place overall, but fell foul of the treacherous conditions in the wake of heavy rain and picked up a puncture.

Deciding to stop and change the wheel in the stage, Wilks then suffered more frustration as the jack refused to function as required, costing the Briton a total of more than three and a half minutes and dropping him to seventh overall.

"Obviously it's disappointing as we've been running so strongly and took second fastest time on the previous stage," said Wilks. "But we'll press on, use the event to get more miles on the whole package and see where we end up, because there are plenty more punctures to come yet.

The day opened with the Skoda Fabias of Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky in front after four stages, and SS5 (Druzhnoselie 1) was cancelled after a major accident involving the zero car.

Restarting on SS6, Hanninen took his fifth stage win of the event - repeating the feat on SS7 to end the first loop 49.9 seconds clear of team-mate Kopecky.

Giandomenico Basso, running fourth, suffered his second puncture of the event on SS7, promoting his Abarth team mate Anton Alen to third position at the service halt.

The reigning Russian national champion, Aleksandr Zheludov, was again hampered with a misfire in his Peugeot 207, which had blunted his charge through the opening two stages last night. Meanwhile Franz Wittmann's Mitsubishi hangs on to its seventh place despite continued worries over how long its rear differential will hold out in the punishing event.

The most entertaining battle of the rally so far is that between Russia's Boris Zimin in another Mitsubishi Evo IX and the 2WD Honda Civic Type R of Estonian Kaspar Koitla, who are trading eighth place between them in a snakes-and-ladders battle. On SS7 Zimin was yet another driver to pick up a puncture, allowing the feisty little Honda to reclaim the position - in front of a phalanx of 4WD machines.

The three retirements from yesterday's stages all made the restart this morning under Superally rules. The Mitsubishi of five-time Russian champion Andrey Zhigunov, last year's 2WD winner Vadim Mikhailov and Vladimir Kabanov, the only Volkswagen competing this weekend, all got back in action. Unfortunately for Mikhailov the joy was short-lived as he went out again on SS6.

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Skodas take early lead in Russia
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