Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen leads the Rally of Scotland by 11 seconds at the end of the first full day, after major problems for British duo and pre-rally favorites Guy Wilks and Kris Meeke.
Skoda UK driver, and 2009 Scotland winner (after Meeke's disqualification), Wilks had led factory Skoda man Hanninen by five seconds going into this afternoon's loop, only for a differential problem to leave him limping through the Craigvinean stage. He subsequently returned to service and retired.
Meeke had already been delayed by a puncture this morning, and then dropped a further minute on SS7, Drummond Hill, when he lost his brakes early on the stage due to a split pipe. He managed to keep the car intact for the day's final stage, where a remarkable performance saw him lose only 15s to Hanninen.
"We had to do a makeshift fix and now we have only 50 percent of front brakes, so it's impossible to drive," said Meeke, who is now in fourth place.
Those dramas mean that Andreas Mikkelsen has become Hanninen's main challenger, in by far his best performance of the IRC season in the Hankook Ford. The Norwegian won today's final stage and goes into the deciding leg still within striking distance of the leading Skoda. Thierry Neuville has moved up to third, 16sec ahead of his troubled Kronos Peugeot team-mate Meeke.
British woes continued further down the field as Keith Cronin retired from eighth place. The British champion stopped his Proton to investigate a scary steering problem on SS6, and then admitted he neglected to properly secure the car's hood afterward. The bonnet then flew up, smashing the car's windshield, and though Cronin completed the stage 25 minutes behind the leaders, he decided to call it a day.
But while Cronin and Alister McRae are both out, Tom Cave is upholding Proton honor superbly. A puncture for erstwhile Group N leader David Bogie on SS8 means Cave has now moved up to fifth place, ahead of the flying Euan Thorborn, recovering from earlier dramas in his Mitsubishi.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Juho Hanninen Skoda 1h03m01.2s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Ford + 11.1s
3. Thierry Neuville Peugeot + 1m30.4s
4. Kris Meeke Peugeot + 1m46.2s
5. Tom Cave Proton + 4m20.3s
6. Euan Thorburn Mitsubishi + 5m08.5s
7. Jonathan Greer Mitsubishi + 5m51.8s
8. Daniel Oliveira Peugeot + 6m59.2s
9. David Bogie Mitsubishi + 8m00.9s
10. Siim Plangi Honda + 8m22.5s