Irishman Mark Fisher, along with his experienced co-driver Gordon Noble, endured a dreadful day on the first 'real' stages of the Rally of Great Britain.

Things had started promisingly on the first Super Special Stage, held in the centre of Cardiff, and they were thoroughly enjoying the experience, when suddenly the car steamed up after hitting the water splash - this would cost them valuable seconds, and they eventually finished the night in 42nd overall.

However, at the start of this cold, rainy day, typical Rally GB weather, it all started to go horribly wrong. The first group of three stages totalled 31 miles, being split up into eight, seven and seventeen mile stages respectively - with the only service allowed at the end of the loop.

On the first of forest stage, a suspension problem occurred, which resulted in a very slow stage time. The problem worsened on SS2 (Tyle) and with the longest stage to follow, the crew cobbled together a repair as best they could.

This kept them in the rally, but they also netted some road penalties. The combination of the slow times and the penalties meant the crew would eventually finish the section in a lowly 110th place.

Fisher, initially relieved to have reached the service area at last, had high hopes that the problem was repaired, and they duly tackled the next loop of two stages - only to find an even worse scenario.

Once out on the road he found that the car only had three wheel-drive, this made it's handling terrible - to the point of being virtually undriveable. More worryingly, Fisher found that the car now "snatched" erratically over the slightest bump. Nevertheless a gutsy drive ensured that he reached the next service.

This time the gearbox was changed after the electronics engineer had discovered the exact problem inside the differential. Without wanting to drop any further time, the French mechanic sent the car out of service - having had none of the precious 20 minutes available to check the suspension, so the car's handling, albeit improved, was still unpredictable, and certainly not to Fisher's liking.

Fortunately the last two stages went much better, with the crew netting twenty-second and twenty-fourth fastest times respectively, in Hafren and Myherin, despite being driven completely in the dark. These results moved them back up through the field, and into sixty-third overnight.

Fisher commented, "It's been a very, very difficult day. The car just wanted to fly off the road; it's been an incredibly testing time. I didn't stick my neck out in Hafren or Myherin, as I was still a bit nervous of the car. However, I have to make sure I start tomorrow with a positive attitude."

The service crew had 45 minutes at the last service to finally enable them to align the suspension geometry, so Leg Two should see a true representation of Fisher's speed.