Scott Pedder took full advantage of a retirement from arch rival Brendan Reeves to open up a comfortable lead in the latest round of the Australian Rally Championship at Coffs Harbour.
The Renault Clio driver, who suffered a spin in Thursday's Power Stage, holds a two and a half minute lead over the Volkswagen of Michael Boaden having been aided by a mechanical drama for Reeves.
“We backed off considerably after we heard Brendan had a problem,” said Pedder.
“I was probably driving at 95 per cent for most of the day, just to make sure I kept my concentration up.
“I've built a good buffer now in case we have a problem. Everything worked well today, despite the tough conditions. Very chopped up especially on the second pass over the stages.”
After pulling level in the championship standings with a victory on the Power Stage, Reeves began the day by claiming the opening Hydes Creek stage. The victory earned him a 6.3s lead over Pedder.
However, drama struck on the following stage as with Reeves coming to halt with an engine failure.
“Coming down the hill something went bang in third, the engine just cut out. Something internal has let go, the engine won't even start up,” said Reeves.
With the demise of Reeves, Pedder quickly opened up a 30 second advantage over Boaden in second before significantly building on the lead after the day's eight stages.
Mick Patton brought his VW home in third but is a full two minutes behind Boaden, while the Ford Fiesta of Steve McKenzie finished the day in fourth.
Leg two contains just six stages, but includes two passes over the daunting 48.92km Nambucca stage, which played such havoc last year.