Martin Koci more than trebled his lead in the Junior WRC category with an assured performance on day two at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
The Slovakian started Saturday’s programme of stages with a 34.2s advantage over newly-crowned champion Simone Tempestini. But six fastest times on the day’s eight stages ensured he extended his advantage to 1m 55.6s.
Koci’s cause was helped on the second run through the 21.12km Dyfi test when Tempestini’s Citroën DS 3 R3T developed a brake problem.
Unable to push, the Italian dropped more than a minute to his rival on the next three stages and that meant Saturday’s contest was effectively over.
“We lost the brakes after six kilometres. We bled the system and things got better later this afternoon but we’d already lost lots of time,” a deflated Tempestini explained.
Yohan Rossel completed the top three as the cars returned to the Deeside service area on Saturday night but the Frenchman, who wasn’t happy with the set up of his car in the afternoon, was a further 1m 11.5s behind Tempestini.
Vincent Dubert looked set to complete the list of Junior WRC cars that were still running but he was forced to retire at the end of SS12 when his car was struck by an under-bonnet fire after a turbocharger problem. He is expected to restart tomorrow.
William Wagner, who retired on Friday following a roll, also failed to make it to the end of Saturday’s stages after suffering a terminal electrical problem.
With six stages and 52.08 competitive kilometres remaining on Sunday, Koci just needs to play it safe to claim his first Junior WRC win of the season.
“It’s all going very good now and we took the last two forest stages easy,” he said. “I’m very happy and confident but we need to keep the concentration for tomorrow.”