Scots rally ace John MacCrone delivered his best result on the world stage when he narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the Acropolis Rally in Greece.
The 22-year-old from the Isle of Mull, contesting the second round of the World Rally Championship Academy, not only brought his Rally Team Scotland car home fourth, but also won his first stage. The WRC Academy is the official feeder series to the WRC.
"That was tough, but it was a fantastic result for me and the whole team," MacCrone, backed by Palletforce and Tunnocks, and co-driven by Glasgow's Stuart Loudon, said.
"Those are definitely the toughest conditions — both in terms of the severity and roughness of the stages, plus the heat — that I've ever competed in."
MacCrone took his Ford Fiesta R2 into the final stage of the three-day Loutraki-based event having seen his fourth position come under threat by Jose Suárez.
The Spanish driver took 15secs out of the Scot on the penultimate stage, closing the gap to just 5.6secs.
"We knew we had to deliver on the final 21kms stage," MacCrone, who has also attracted sponsorship from clothing company Musto, continued.
"Immediately before the start of the stage, Stuart and I had a 'quiet moment' to prepare ourselves: we knew it was the most important stage of the year for us.
"I committed to every pace note Stuart read out, and I committed fully to every corner: for us it was pretty much the perfect stage.
"We finished the stage 1.2secs faster than Suárez, which was a brilliant way to finish the event, acknowledged as being the toughest on the calendar."
Welshman Elfyn Evans, current leader in the British Rally Championship, took victory ahead of Irishman Alastair Fisher. Aussie Brendan Reeves was third, just 47secs ahead of MacCrone. The Scot though was encouraged by his performance.
"It's given me a huge amount of encouragement and confidence," MacCrone said. "I now know, especially at this level, that I can raise my game when I need to and deliver the pace.
"Not only that, but I've proved to myself I can do it while also still looking after the car.
"Unfortunately we've a bit of a break now before the next round in Finland, but I'll go there certainly feeling that I have the pace to mix it with the more experienced guys in the championship."