Jon Armstrong produced a dramatic comeback drive to claim his first ever top six finish in the European Rally Championship.

After a strong start to Rally Estonia any hopes of personal best looked to have evaporated after he collided with a tree and suffered a puncture in his Ford Fiesta, but a stirring fight back saw him climb from eleventh to sixth overall on the final day.

“We ended up getting quite a good result after an event that was not plain sailing,” admitted Jon, who set the second fastest time on the first short spectator stage before battling with former World Rally Championship drivers throughout Saturday’s eight stages.

“There were two stages in the morning repeated, and the same in the afternoon, so you had 8 stages. It was quite demanding to prepare yourself for the second pass when the stages get really rutted and destroyed.

"You have to change your approach and the set up of the car, and raise the ride height. We were fighting for seventh most of the day with Mats Osberg and Haydn Paddon.”

That battle looked to have come to an end on the ninth stage of the rally when Armstrong slid into the undergrowth.

“I was going quite well but on stage nine I lost the front in a rut and went wide,” he recalled.

“I glanced a tree and it seemed to hit the top of the driver’s window and spun the car around.

"It did a bit of body damage, and it didn’t look very good, but thankfully it didn’t seem to hit the suspension components too badly and the car was still running straight.

We probably would have lost a lot less time in the incident only we got a puncture on the other side of the car.

We had to drive about 6 or 7K on a puncture and that is where a lot of the time loss was. We were very lucky we didn’t have bigger time loss.”

The setback dropped Armstrong outside the top ten for the first time, but with the car suffering no long term effects of the impact he started his climb back up the leaderboard.

The first stage of Sunday morning saw him overhaul the two drivers in front of him, and he was up to seventh on the penultimate test before a last stage charge lifted him into the top six.

“The last stage was very treacherous with a lot of rainfall and it was sketchy in places,” he explained.

“It was like ice, and you were aquaplaning, and it was quite narrow and we were just trying to keep it between the ditches. It was one of those stages were you could take a lot of risks and be bouncing off the ditches everywhere. You could make time, and I think the start of the stage was going really well.

"I had a lot of confidence in the grip and the car, but conditions were getting a bit more slippery towards the end and I was having more and more moments so I backed off a wee bit then.”

Armstrong is hoping that the event marks a turning point in his season. He has never been closer to the leaders than he was in Estonia, and he feels as he increases his seat time in the car, his familiarity with the Fiesta is being rewarded with faster stage times.

“It was quite a good step up in pace and we were a lot closer to the front,” he acknowledged.

“It is probably just because we are getting to spend more time in the car and learning more about it.

"I think we are building on what we are learning during the season and understanding what is the best direction to go with the car set up and trying to find what works for me.

"You can narrow what you are focussing on and it becomes a smaller window of the things you need to work with. I think everything is coming together, but obviously we can still improve even more.

"It’s just trying to do that now in the upcoming remaining four tarmac rallies. They are different styles of tarmac rallies but they are all fairly good events and it should be interesting.”

The result takes Armstrong to fourth in the Championship standings, and with his new-found pace he has not written off his chances of advancing further up the rankings.

“For sure it is still all to play for,” he said. “I think we would be getting ahead of ourselves to say we were fighting for the Championship, but it is possible looking at it. It just depends on how our pace develops on tarmac and if we can take the fight to the top three. We will just keep pushing and see where we end up.”