Subaru rally driver, Cody Crocker, has edged closer to the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title by finishing the opening day of Rally Indonesia second among his title rivals to collect a further two championship points.
Toshi Aria, who is not a championship entrant, leads the event by 23 seconds from Jarko Miettinen, with Crocker third outright, 57 seconds off the pace.
Early in the day Crocker led the way in his Les Walkden Rallying-prepared Impreza WRX STI, and after five special stages he was tied with Arai at the front of the field.
Only a problem in the afternoon, when choking dirt caused a blockage in his air-intake, resulting in a major loss of power, saw Crocker concede time to his rivals.
While the Victorian had his challenges, the only man who can take the Asia Pacific title from him, Japan's Katsuhiko Taguchi, had a worse day, finishing over four minutes off the lead after a flat tyre cost him time during the morning stages.
The odds of a title win have been made easier by Crocker collecting two points and his Mitsubishi rival none, but the three-time Australian champion knows the battle is far from over.
"It was a bit frustrating this afternoon when we had the issue caused by the dirt, but it just goes to show how quickly things can change in a day's rallying," Crocker said.
"Frustrating, but not disastrous and we still picked up some valuable points."
"Second time over the stages this afternoon the roads were super soft and we were scooping up dirt. We were over-heating and losing power across stages six and seven. It was only after the second afternoon stage that we realised it was the air-intake that was blocked and when we cleaned that out we were right back on the pace."
Crocker's Les Walkden Rallying team-mate, Eli Evans, was forced out of the day after the second stage when gearbox problems left him with only first and second gear to work with.
"It was disappointing as we were really looking forward to getting out there and learning the stages," Evans said.
"But with only first and second left at the end of special stage two and with a long one to follow, we had no option but to call it quits for the day."
"Now we'll look forward to getting out there tomorrow and maybe picking up some points."
Leg Two of Rally Indonesia takes competitors across a further five stages and 83.64 competitive kilometres.
Results - Leg One 2006 Rally Indonesia (Provisional)
1. T Arai (J)/ T Sircombe (NZ), Subaru Impreza WRX STI
2 J Miettinen (Fin), L Malley (Fin), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +23 sec
1 C Crocker (Aus), B Atkinson (Aus), Subaru Impreza WRX STI +57 secs
4 H Yanagisawa (J), T Misaizu (J), Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +3 min 04 secs
5 K Taguchi (J), M Stacey (Aus), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +4 mins 41 secs
5 R Sungkar (RI), R Swarwano (RI), Proton Pert, +5 mins 36 secs