In a shortened second Heat of Scouts Rally SA, Scott Pedder has continued his domination of the competition, finishing 47.2 seconds ahead of Brendan Reeves and over two minutes up on Adrian Coppin.
The second day of the event suffered significant delays with a number of major incidents forcing event organisers to rejig the schedule on the fly, including the cancellation of Special Stages 12 and 13 and the addition of a third pace around the Gawler Showground in the evening.
The Renault Clio driver charged out of the blocks on this morning's three forest stages to open an immediate 13.8 second lead over second placed Jack Monkhouse, while Reeves was a further 8.8 seconds further adrift in third.
Reeves admitted he was struggling with the handling in his Mazda2.
Following mid-morning service drivers ventured onto the high speed Council roads, with the Goldsfields and Tweeden stages. Pedder took advantage, putting his current speed and confidence in his Renault Clio to good use, opening a further 8.0 seconds on SS9.
And then on the following stage, Tweeden, Pedder almost doubled his advantage by taking a further 17.6 seconds off Reeves who unknowingly had moved up to second. Behind Reeves on the road, Jack Monkhouse had suffered a major accident in his Nissan Silvia, flipping the car on to its roof and in the process a fire ignited essentially burning the car to the ground.
“Hit a rock that was on the apex of a 6th gear crest at about 180km/h which sent us rolling into the trees forwards, backwards and upside down,” said Monkhouse.
“Fairly scary to say the least, then it burst into flames about 30 seconds after we got out of it. Crying shame considering we weren't trying to prove anything and were just out there doing skids and putting on a show for the fans.”
Delays throughout the day, including Monkhouse's fire, and an off road excursion for both David Thompson and Barry Lowe in the Classics, forced organisers to dump the final two forest stages. Crews instead transported directly to Gawler for the rescheduled three passes over the 1.05km Showground stage.
“Today has gone very, very well! Our only problem has been that the dash hasn't been showing what gear I'm in,” said Pedder.
“We went out fast on the Tweeden stage, that was the highlight, and we managed to get the 2WD record. The car was great on that stage, it was such a pleasure to drive.
“The delays today haven't been ideal, but when you think about Jack (Monkhouse) watching his car burn to the ground, well everything else kind of pales in significance. So if that means we stand around for half an hour or an hour I can live with that.”
Reeves meanwhile was reflecting on the fortunes of his day. “Scott has continually been able to pull small gaps on us all day. I think the setup changes we've made on the run today have worked, so let's see what we can do tomorrow.”
Adrian Coppin held the Citroen advantage yesterday, and he continued that today, finishing third ahead of teammate Tony Sullens in fourth.
“I pushed early and the first stage was great, we got within a second of Brendan. Maybe my confidence was a bit high after that because then on the next stage we had a spin,” said Coppin.
In the Classics Neal Bates controlled the day despite having to run with a failing carburettor in his Celica RA40, finishing the day over five minutes ahead of Porsche driver Jeff David and third placed Ross Kingham's Volvo.
“The car has been going unbelievably well despite a carbie drama today,” said Bates.
“I had to disconnect the fuel on the rear cylinders on the way into service, so we got here on just two cylinders.”
The Side-By-Side Rally Challenge saw its top two contenders, Polaris' Cody Crocker and Can-Am's Michael Guest, both breaking the drive belts not once but twice on today's stages.
“We broke the first belt on the opening stage, and then another on Tweeden,” said Guest.
“Iain Hughes broke one as well, and Cody broke two on Tweeden as well. The problem is the speed of the stages, we're flat out for minutes at a time, it's crazy.”
Those dramas have allowed Les Chivers to claim the Heat victory in his Can-Am, and the similar vehicle of Nathan Chivers had looked on course for second until a last stage place swap saw Iain Hughes jump into the runners up spot.
Sunday's action at Scouts Rally SA consists of a further ten Special Stages, finishing with one further pass around the Gawler Showgrounds, before the ten fastest drivers across all categories will face off in a show down to crown the fastest ahead of the champagne finish.
VIDEO: Wrap of the day