Peugeot's Justin Dale had a great first stage on the Jim Clark Rally in Duns, in the Scottish borders, to take the overnight lead. His TOTAL supported Peugeot 106 Super 1600 only needed a top up of that Quartz 9000 in the 10 minute service at the end of the first Leg.
Starting first on the road is always difficult as it is hard to find the position of the following cars. However, on this 14.8 mile demanding test in the crisp dark autumn evening Justin pulled out a substantial 5.8 second lead from Ford rival Martin Rowe.
Rowe had confirmation at a mid point in the stage that he was 1 second up, but was finding his car a "bit untidy -- bouncing around a lot". He was quite bemused by the turnaround in the margin at the stage end.
Dale meantime commented "I was really pushing on in there, and got away with a few slides. A few near overshoots as well, but everything came right. Had a huge moment as I took the big jump in there flat in 6th. Just magic!"
12 further stages will greet them tomorrow, and it is hoped that there will be no overnight rain, although the forecast is fine. "All I'm going to do is concentrate on Martin tomorrow," Justin added, "the two of us have quite a lead already over the rest of the field."
The main battle for the drivers championship is between Justin and Martin so nothing will be spared in the battle tomorrow. Also, the manufacturers margin is a mere 2 points, with Ford just slightly ahead.
In the meantime, the other TOTAL supported crew, Martin Sansom and Phil Wells had a torrid start to their day, as the gearbox jammed in 3rd gear a mere 3 miles into the stage. They dropped a minute as they were unable to take advantage of the straights and too fast for the tight corners. But all told were lucky to get away with so little time loss and all credit to Martin for that performance in his Peugeot 106 Super 1600 prize drive car.
In the main field, Rob Russell currently leads the Super 106 Cup cars out, in 17th overall, although this is not a Cup round. Chris Moore is 26 seconds back after the near 15 miler, and will aim to improve on that tomorrow. This event has always been a particular favourite for Rob, so he is revelling in the conditions.