Kris Meeke splashed through monsoon conditions to lead the Rally of Scotland after the prelude stages at Scone Palace last night.
They were just two short sprints through the grounds of the historic castle near Perth, but Meeke made his intentions clear by setting fastest times on both of them in his Kronos Racing Peugeot 207 which was decked out in special livery marking his status as the new Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion.
The superspecial stages, covering just over three kilometres, will mean little in the overall scheme of a rally which doesn’t end until Saturday afternoon but Meeke saw it as “first blood to Peugeot” as he took a four second lead over the Skoda of arch-rival Guy Wilks.
“In the dark, in the rain and the mist, those two stages were very tricky and it was good to get them out of the way without trouble — and to be quickest was a bonus,” said the Ulsterman.
He and former British champion Wilks had already pulled out a gap of more than seven seconds over the Peugeot of Adam Gould in third and the Proton of Alister McRae in fourth.
Behind them came two of Ulster’s young hopefuls, Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer, leading the production category in their Mitsubishis.
New British champion Keith Cronin had been third after the first stage, but the handbrake of his Abarth Punto jammed on the second and the Cork driver dropped back to seventh, already 16 seconds behind Meeke.
Eamonn Boland was in 11th place in his Mitsubishi and Craig Breen back in 22nd in his Ford Fiesta.
Positions after stage 2: 1 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Peugeot 207) 2 mins 18.4 secs; 2 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Skoda Fabia) + 4.0 secs; 3 Adam Gould/Sebastien Marshall (Peugeot 207) + 11.7 secs; 4 Alister McRae/Bill Hayes (Proton Satria) + 12.4 secs; 5 Alastair Fisher/Barry McNulty (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 12.4 secs; 6 Jonny Greer/Dai Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 13.6 secs; 7 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Abarth Punto) + 15.9 secs; 8 Dave Weston/Ieuan Roberts (Subaru Impreza) + 17.5 secs; 9 Kaspar Koitla/Andres Ots (Honda Civic) + 17.6 secs; 10 David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 18.9 secs.