Kris Meeke will take a 21.2-second lead into the final day of the Rally of Scotland after a blistering run through the last stage of leg one.
Peugeot driver Meeke had been unable to shake off the challenge of Guy Wilks' Skoda until this afternoon's return to Craigvinean for SS7. While Wilks was slightly slowed by a light glitch in the increasingly gloomy and misty conditions, Meeke stepped up his pace and won the stage by a full 15sec over Alister McRae and Wilks.
"I don't know what to say – we had a good run," said Meeke. "Malcolm Wilson was at the start of that stage and said to me,'You're not going to let Guy Wilks beat you, are you?' I said, 'I'd better start driving then,' so that one's for Malcolm."
But despite extending his lead, Meeke is not taking anything for granted until he has completed the rally-ending Loch Ard stage tomorrow.
"It's a long, long day and we have a sting in the tail with that monster of a stage," he said. "We have to treat it with respect. But we've pulled out a little bit of a cushion now so tomorrow will be about managing it."
Wilks said he had no particular dramas on the stage where Meeke pulled clear. "It was just very tricky," said Wilks. "We had a small problem with one of the lights into the stage, and the stage was incredibly slippery. It's been a great day, though."
McRae remains third in his Proton. Dave Weston Jr. lost his fourth place when he went off the road near the end of Craigvinean. His crash elevated Jonathan Greer to the 'best of the rest' position, with David Bogie close behind him.
Leading positions after leg one:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Kris Meeke Peugeot 56m35.3s
2. Guy Wilks Skoda + 21.2s
3. Alister McRae Proton + 1m18.2s
4. Jonathan Greer Mitsubishi + 3m49.1s
5. David Bogie Mitsubishi + 3m54.2s
6. Jock Armstrong Subaru + 4m44.4s
7. Eamonn Boland Mitsubishi + 8m15.6s
8. Martin Kangur Honda + 8m34.5s
9. Kaspar Koitla Honda + 8m47.9s
10. Sebastien Rousseaux Subaru + 9m13.5s