You don't get rally finishes much closer than this. Stuart Baillie and Lee Hastings tied on the same time after 8 stages on today's Grant Construction Knockhill Stages, while Stuart Walker closed down the gap to 4 seconds for third place.
But this sport can be particularly cruel. Rally leader after six stages, Ross Hunter was declared OTL after a heroic effort which involved changing the engine in his Peugeot 205 at the lunch halt. The fastest man on the stages all day, it just proved that speed and talent are not enough in this sport.
As it was Baillie and Hastings tied, with Stuart getting the win by virtue of a faster time on the first stage of the day, after which his Subaru lost third gear. Stuart Walker was an early leader till a couple of offs due to brake problems but once these were fixed he was back on the case and closed the gap down to finish third.
Another driver losing out on a possible podium finish was Lachlan Cowan in the Fiesta. He caught a car on the final stage and in one of the most ambitious overtaking manoeuvres of the day, slid wide on the Knockhill quarry bend and plunged axle deep into mud. He had actually tried to overtake on the outside of the bend, but couldn't see the tyre markers on the blind side. Just when he had committed himself, he spotted the tyres and had to take avoiding action, dropping 3 minutes as the Marshals pushed him back on to the track. Dohhhh!
Ricky Wheeler finished top 2WD car in his Escort with Graeme Schoneville top FWD in his Honda in 8th place and there was another stirring performance for tenth place by Ian Forgan in his Ford Ka.
Leaderboard after 8 (of 8) stages:
1, Stuart Baillie/Alan Cowan (Subaru impreza) 40m 13s
2, Lee Hastings/Brian Findon (Subaru Impreza) 40m 13s
3, Stuart Walker/Julie McGuire (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) 40m 17s
4, Colin Gemmel/Cameron Fair (Subaru Impreza) 40m 31s
5, Ricky Wheeler/Gordon Thompson (Ford Escort MkII) 40m 38s
6, Billy McClelland/Helen Brown (Mitsubishi Lance EVO3) 41m 04s
7, Alan Gardiner/Billy Gower (Ford Escort MkI) 41m 04s
8, Graeme Schoneville/Michael Hendry (Honda Civic) 41m 06s
9, Stephen Lockhart/Julie Lockhart (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7) 41m 19s
10, Ian Forgan/Kathryn Forgan (Ford Ka) 41m 38s