Keith Cronin holds a comprehensive lead after day two of the 2012 Jim Clark International Rally, Round Four of the MSA British Rally Championship.
Cronin won last time out on the Pirelli International Rally and is looking set to add to that victory, the double BRC champion holding a 59.9s lead over Tom Cave, after early rally leader Jarkko Nikara was forced to retire with a mechanical problem.
The first all-asphalt round of the season began with two special stages around the streets of Duns on Friday evening, before the rally headed out to the closed public roads of Berwickshire today. Nikara led overnight in his Citroen DS3 R3, but Cronin quickly seized the advantage this morning in his own DS3.
Cronin won the first three stages of the day on his way to a 47 second lead after the morning loop of stages. Nikara held second early on; however Welshman Cave was a man on a mission, matching Cronin's time on SS5 before going quickest on SS6 to move from fourth up to second.
SS7 saw the beginning of Nikara's demise as he lost well over a minute with a gearbox problem, dropping him to eleventh. The Finn battled on through SS8, but ended up retiring at the end of the stage to continue his frustrating season so far.
Cave was fastest on SS7 as he looked to try and chase down Cronin, however stage wins on the final three stages of the day moves the Irishman nearly a minute clear heading into tomorrow's five stages.
A further minute behind Cave in third is Jonathan Greer, making it three Citroen DS3's in the top three positions at the moment. Greer sits just 3.9s ahead of Peter Taylor, who has had an impressive run in his Renault Clio R3.
Leading the R2 class in fifth overall is Elfyn Evans, the Ford Fiesta driver and current championship leader holding a lead of over 40 seconds from the Pirelli-backed Skoda Fabia R2 of Jukka Korhonen in sixth. Sitting in a lowly ninth after problems through the day is Irishman Mark Donnelly, a mysterious loss of power in his Renault Clio R3 leaving him over three and a half minutes behind the leader.
On the edge of the top ten meanwhile on his BRC return is Callum Black. After missing the last two rounds following his car-wrecking accident on the season-opening Rallye Sunseeker, the 20 year old is running well as he gets to grips with his new Citroen DS3 R3.
Five other drivers joined Nikara on the retirement list through the day, with the first ones to go being fellow Finn Niko-Pekka Nieminen, who hit a fence in his Ford Fiesta on SS3, and Desi Henry. Arron Newby retired in dramatic fashion on SS4, rolling their Skoda Fabia after landing badly after a jump, a disappointing conclusion after a strong start to the event, with James Grint and Gethin Jones the others to go during the day.