Jan Kopecky has opened up a 24sec lead in Rally Zlin after a chaotic first morning in the Czech round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Kopecky had been embroiled in a close fight with his Skoda team-mate Juho Hanninen on their squad's home round at first, with Hanninen's stage win on the wet SS4 leaving them just one second apart.
But then Hanninen had a high-speed spin on the next stage, striking a tree and falling to fourth place, leaving Kopecky comfortably clear of new second-placed man Bryan Bouffier.
The Peugeot driver thought his choice of medium compound cut slicks in the rain had been a disaster, but with all the other frontrunners struggling on harder rubber, Bouffier actually ended up winning the stage and leaping from sixth to second.
Kris Meeke (Peugeot UK) is right on Bouffier's tail in third, with Ypres and Madeira winner Freddy Loix fifth behind Hanninen in the third works Skoda. Mitsubishi driver Vaclav Pech continues to brilliantly hang on to the S2000 cars in sixth.
Several drivers have hit trouble in the conditions, with former works Ford World Rally Championship driver Roman Kresta charging to fifth before crashing on SS5, Peugeot's rising star Thierry Neuville damaging his 207 and retiring on SS4, Ford man Andreas Mikkelsen going off right at the end of SS3, and Guy Wilks delayed when a deer ran into the side of his Skoda.
Wilks was able to continue and is 12th, while British champion Keith Cronin has progressed to 14th on his debut appearance with Proton.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Jan Kopecky Skoda 44m14.3s
2. Bryan Bouffier Peugeot + 24.2s
3. Kris Meeke Peugeot + 25.9s
4. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 30.2s
5. Freddy Loix Skoda + 35.5s
6. Vaclav Pech Mitsubishi + 37.1s
7. Pavel Valousek Skoda + 1m45.3s
8. Andreas Mikkelsen Ford + 1m52.0s
9. Jaroslav Orsak Mitsubishi + 2m00.6s
10. Roman Odlozilik Skoda + 2m15.6s