Pirelli Star Driver Jarkko Nikara has suffered a nightmare start to Rally Finland - the biggest event of his career to date.
The gearbox on Nikara's PSD Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X was making ominous noises on the run back to Jyvaskyla from the Killeri superspecial stage last night, forcing the Ralliart Italy mechanics to change the transmission this morning.
Nikara starts today's first stage proper with 1m20s of penalties after the work took nine minutes longer than the permitted service time of 15 minutes.
Realising the gearbox was going to be changed this morning, the team had worked through the night, practising the operation on a test car to make sure they could complete the work in the shortest possible time.
Nikara, who has been the clear pacesetter in the PSD series this year, was deeply disappointed.
"I think it could be a long weekend now," he said. "There's no point in me driving hard and pushing now. It's just normal driving, but it's so tough - I look forward to this event for all of the year."
Nikara's home round of the World Rally Championship has not been kind to him in recent seasons - last year he suffered an engine problem in his Fiesta on day one, but rocketed back through the field on Saturday taking minute after minute off his nearest rival in the Fiesta SportTrophy International. He will be looking for a similar fightback this time around.