Shaun Sinclair took his first maximum Hankook Scottish championship points on a dramatic Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally at the weekend - but revealed he almost did not make it to the start line because of a 'mystery fault' with his car the previous day.
Just what was wrong with the Mitsubishi Evo 9 caused much head-scratching. There was even talk of an engine change. In the event, it turned out to be nothing more than a rubber grommet which had found its way into the fuel tank.
With that 'scare' behind him, the Oban-driver was immediately on the pace in wet and slippery conditions on the second round of the Hankook MSA series.
He powered through the five Kielder and Wauchope forest stages to finish 27 seconds behind non-SRC registered Dave Weston Jnr in a Subaru Impreza 2010, with reigning champion David Bogie a further 34 seconds adrift in his Evo 9: both Weston and Bogie were using the event as a test run ahead of the opening round of the British championship this coming weekend.
Jock Armstrong - winner of the season-opening Snowman Rally - only made it three miles into the first stage before the gearbox of his Subaru Impreza packed in, while Mike Faulkner, who was third on round one in his Evo 6, pulled out on Stage 4 with a broken differential.
As a result, Bothwell's Alick Kerr now leads the overall drivers' standings by four points from Inverness veteran Andy Horne.
Following his runner-up spot on the Snowman, 21-year-old Kerr was again in impressive form to finish fourth in the SRC points in his Subaru Impreza, 29 seconds behind the Evo 9 of Lancashire-based motorsport engineer Wayne Sisson, who got his campaign back on track after a DNF on the opening round.
On the way to their first SRC win, Sinclair and co-driver Chris Hamill posted a third fastest time on the opening Hyndlee stage, behind Northern Ireland's Jonathan Greer, another BRC 'tester', who later retired his Evo 9 with gearbox trouble, and Weston.
The Oban pair were second only to Weston on the following 8.97 mile Bewshaugh test; were fourth fastest through the 8.91 miles of SS3 Falstone; were third quickest through the Redesdale 14-miler; and capped it all off with a stage win on the final 6.08 mile Wauchope test - pipping Weston by one second.