The wide grins at the finish said it all – Mike Faulkner and co-driver Peter Foy had just won their first Scottish Rally Championship round after a day of drama in the forests south of Aberdeen.
It was a moment to savour for the Gretna-based Faulkner, who had been trailing David Bogie by five seconds going into the last stage of the Station Garage Mitsubishi Granite City Rally.
But then the young Dumfries driver put his Mitsubishi Evo 9 into a ditch, reflecting ruefully that it was 'his slowest off ever'.
With more than three minutes lost, it was game over as Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae slipped back down to fourteenth.
Barry Groundwater finished runner-up on his home event in his Evo 9, with Jock Armstrong taking the final podium spot in his Subaru Impreza N11.
Faulkner's win at the wheel of his Evo 6 leaves the race for the Hankook Scottish Championship title wide open after three rounds – all of them with different winners.
“Word's can't describe it – we've had success in one-make championships, but to win a round of the Scottish series is absolutely brilliant,” Faulkner said.
“We were 100 per cent focused – we decided that if we were going to do the championship justice, it was no good just getting seconds and thirds – we had to give it everything and this result couldn't be better.”
The 37-year-old added that at a time of financial hardship, it was also a just reward for his sponsor BSW Timber, for whom he works as a sales manager.
Stonehaven's Barry Groundwater and co-driver Jude Wylie were also determined to kick-start their campaign after what they admitted had been a poor start to the season.