Young Scots Rally Ace John MacCrone signs off with fast times in Portugal

Scotland's rising young rally star, John MacCrone, threw off the disappointment of the opening day to post fourth-fastest times in the final two stages of the WRC Academy in Portugal.

The 22-year-old from the Isle of Mull received a 15 minute penalty after he crashed heavily on the opening gravel stage on Thursday evening.

But the Scot, making his debut in the WRC Academy driving his Tunnocks and Palletforce-backed Rally Team Scotland Ford Fiesta, was delighted with his performance today.

"This was a real baptism of fire," MacCrone, co-driven by Glasgow's Stuart Loudon, admitted. "We made one very, very small mistake on Thursday night, and that cost us big time."

Their mistake was taking crest just 3km/h too quickly. The result was the Fiesta ploughed nose first into the gravel ripping off the sumpguard and destroying the oil cooler.

"After that it was a case of fighting back, and I'm happy with the way we regrouped and applied ourselves," MacCrone continued.

"In the closing three stages today, we were seventh, fourth and fourth, so we know the pace is there. That's a major boost for me.

"This was always going to be a very steep learning curve and, but for that one little error on Thursday night, we could well have been pushing for a top three or four position today."

Indeed, but for their 15 minute penalty, the Scots duo would have finished fifth, possibly fourth, instead of ninth.

"We take a lot away from this event," MacCrone said. "We know we're fast enough to be competitive, but we also need to learn when to push and when to back off.

"I'd say we've learned that lesson the hard way. We've five rounds remaining and points now are going to be crucial.

"The next round is Greece, which is likely to be another real car-breaking rally like this one. We're ready for it."