Andreas Mikkelsen leads the Rally of Scotland by nearly half a minute after Guy Wilks lost six minutes with a mistake on SS5.
Peugeot UK's overnight leader Wilks and Skoda UK driver Mikkelsen had made the fight for victory a two-horse race this morning, with Mikkelsen immediately jumping to second when he won the opening Craigvinean stage. Wilks then lost a few seconds and the rally lead when he had a quick excursion through a ditch on Drummond Hill.
He completed the stage only three seconds behind new leader Mikkelsen, but worse was to follow on Errochty when Wilks went off the road again and dropped six minutes before he could rejoin in 22nd position.
"I was convinced we had a rear puncture and I didn't want to lose time and I was pushing like hell – and I pushed too hard," Wilks explained.
Mikkelsen, who is still chasing his first Intercontinental Rally Challenge win after recent near-misses in Hungary and Sanremo, said he was sad to see Wilks drop back.
"It's very sad to see what's happened to Guy," said Mikkelsen. "It's a shame he went off because I think we could've had a good fight."
Mikkelsen's lead is now 28.6s over Wilks' Kronos Peugeot stablemate Thierry Neuville. After a quiet start, Bryan Bouffier surged into contention by winning SS4, and is now third, 5.1s behind Neuville.
P-G Andersson continues to star for Proton, keeping the car in an outstanding fourth place overall, still on the tail of Neuville and Bouffier, and incredibly ahead of reigning champion Juho Hanninen, who admitted he had driven badly this morning as he struggled to find a rhythm in the muddy Scottish forests.
Proton's day was not entirely good. Andersson's teammate Alister McRae got up to ninth only to stop on SS5 with low oil pressure.
Championship leader Jan Kopecky continues to struggle for pace in the other works Skoda, and is back in eighth, behind Patrick Sandell (Skoda Sweden) and Craig Breen (Kel-Tech Ford).
Group N rivals Jarkko Nikara and David Bogie now complete the overall top 10, while Alastair Fisher tumbled down the field from his overnight seventh place when his Ford started driving from the rear wheels only.
Leading positions after SS5:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 38m50.0s
2. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 28.6s
3. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 33.7s
4. P-G Andersson Proton + 37.6s
5. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 41.3s
6. Patrik Sandell Skoda Sweden + 49.4s
7. Craig Breen Kel-Tech Ford + 58.9s
8. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 1m23.3s
9. Jarkko Nikara Mitsubishi (private) + 1m30.2s
10. David Bogie Mitsubishi (private) + 1m36.2s