Guy Wilks saw his first outing in the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship end in disappointing fashion after a fire destroyed his Proton Satria Neo S2000 while leading the Pirelli International.

Wilks, on his debut in the Super 2000 machine, had gone quickest on both night stages on Friday to take a comfortable lead into Saturday and then went quickest on SS3 and SS4 to extend his advantage.

However, while still holding a comfortable lead, the car caught fire on SS8 and despite the best efforts of Wilks, co-driver Phil Pugh and six other crews who stopped at the scene, the Proton was destroyed - although both Wilks and Pugh escaped injury.

"We are absolutely distraught," Wilks said on his personal website. "The Proton is mega to drive and has so much potential. Everything was going to plan. We were managing things from the front, determined to reward Proton and MEM with victory, then disaster.

"I must thank everyone who tried to help put out the fire. That's the true spirit of rallying. Yes, we are rivals on the stages but we all share the same passion and no one likes to see a rally car destroyed."