WILKS RACES INTO EARLY RALLY OF SCOTLAND LEAD UNDER MOONLIT OPENING STAGES AT SCONE PALACE
Guy Wilks has taken an early overnight lead in the RACMSA Rally of Scotland after the event's opening two timed special stages held in the grounds of historic Scone Palace near Perth.
Thousands of fans were stageside to watch Rally of Scotland, the penultimate round of the visiting Intercontinental Rally Challenge, get under way under a moonlit sky this evening (Fri 15 Oct) at Scone.
Darlington's Wilks, the winner of last year's event, set the pace on the first run through the stage with a best time of 2m08.5s in his Skoda Fabia, just 1.7s ahead of arch Northern Irish rival Kris Meeke in his Peugeot 207. Wilks then went a second faster the second time through and incredibly was matched to the tenth by Meeke, but the Skoda man's unrivalled speed on the first run meant he headed back to Perth Airport's overnight halt the clear leader on combined times.
Wilks (pictured above) later admitted he'd had a scare on the second run, commenting: "The steering went dead for a second and I thought I had a puncture or something. Maybe we just had some gravel or mud in the wheel." He added: "It's going to be a very interesting rally and I think without a doubt the pace at the front is going to be very quick. Kris got the jump on me at the start last year and I'm determined not to let that happen again."
Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen made it three different makes of car in the top three by ending the two stages an impressive third overall in his Ford Fiesta. Belgium's Thierry Neuville (Peugeot 207), Lanarkshire's home hero Alister McRae (Proton Satria Neo) and newly-crowned IRC Champion, Finland's Juho Hanninen (Skoda Fabia) completed the top six covered by just 0.3s. Hanninen was caught out by the unexpectedly slippery conditions on his first run and briefly ran off the road.
While the top six positions are filled by drivers in the more rapid Super 2000 cars, Jonathan Greer is the highest-placed of the 'showroom specification' Group N competitors in his Mitsibushi Lancer in eighth. However, his closest GpN challenger, Dumfries' David Bogie who recently secured a second consecutive Scottish Rally Championship crown, is just 2.3s adrift in equal tenth as they both mixed it with other, highly-fancied S2000 runners.
Crews have now returned to Perth Airport's central service for the overnight halt before setting out at 6.20am tomorrow for six high-speed timed stages in Perthshire's forests. Four more stages in Stirlingshire follow on Sunday prior to the Ceremonial Finish at Stirling Castle (for details see locations and times below).
-source: rally of scotland