Bruno Magalhaes has pulled out a surprise lead in Rally Azores as the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title rivals had difficult starts to day two of the event.
Local driver Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) started the day in joint second with Andreas Mikkelsen, just 0.2sec behind overnight leader Juho Hanninen's Skoda.
But Hanninen was one of three drivers to suffer slow punctures on today's opening stage, along with Kris Meeke (Peugeot UK) and Portuguese championship leader Bernardo Sousa (Ford), which left Magalhaes and Mikkelsen clear at the front.
Mikkelsen then struggled through the next two stages – ending SS5 perplexed at his relative lack of pace, and then admitting after SS6 that his lack of experience on the event was costing him, especially as he made his pace notes in thick fog earlier in the week. That meant Mikkelsen fell to third in his Ford, with Jan Kopecky moving up to second for Skoda, 9.4sec behind the ecstatic Magalhaes.
Hanninen has recovered quickly and is right on Mikkelsen's tail in fourth, but Meeke's rally has gone further downhill, with a spin on SS6 costing him more time and leaving him 45sec off the lead.