On a day when many of the leading competitors fell victim to the treacherous conditions Fort Augustus driver Reay Mackay kept it 'tidy' on Saturday's aptly-named Snowman Rally to record the biggest win of his motorsport career.
The 34-year-old displayed great driving skill to bring his MG Metro 6R4 home a full minute ahead of another 'local', Steven Campbell, in a Mitsubishi Evo 5.
Jock Armstrong secured the final podium place, and Group N honours, in a hired Subaru Impreza N12 - the Castle Douglas driver contesting the Arnold Clark/Thistle Hotels Snowman for the first time in 19 years.
The first round of the 2009 Hankook MSA Scottish Rally Championship had a high attrition rate. Among the notable casualties were current Scottish champion and last year's Snowman winner Jimmy Girvan, and fellow 'home favourite' Andy Horne.
Rally organisers had worked hard during the previous week to clear as much snow from the stages as possible.
Nevertheless, the leading cars were, in effect, high-speed snowploughs, and by the time the middle runners came through, the surface - although still hazardous - was becoming more rutted with distinct 'tram-lines' forming.
Mackay and co-driver Bob MacDonald started 28th and like many crews, found the first 7-and-a-half mile Meall Mor stage extremely difficult, finishing a less than promising 30th overall.
“We went out on forest tyres and that proved a complete disaster - we also visited a couple of snow banks,” said Mackay.
However, a switch to snow tyres more than made up for the early problems. Reay was fastest through the 8.95-mile second stage Millbuie, hauling himself up to fourth - and quickest again through the 13-mile Torrachilty test, where he overtook Jock Armstrong for the outright lead.
“Conditions were very tricky - we just had to keep it tidy and stay in the ruts that were there,” said Mackay, “but it's brilliant to have won our first forest rally, and our home event.”
Steven Campbell was also delighted with his day had the wheel of his Group A Evo 5.
Having started 23rd, Campbell was 17th after Stage 1, and had gained another three places by the end of the second test. However, it was on the third stage that the 32-year-old really started to come alive, finishing second fastest behind Mackay and catapulting himself and navigator Graham Law into third overall.