Defending champion Kenneth Eriksson clearly signalled yesterday that he was not about to surrender his 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally crown without a spirited fight. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver shaded his main rival by 20 seconds in the 21.72-kilometre 10th stage to whittle Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Richard Burns' lead to one minute and 22 seconds with 16 special stages still to come. Day three was marred by a serious accident involving a light truck from Tein Sport, the support team for Hong Kong's Michael Lieu and Japan's Yoshio Fujimoto. New Zealanders Jodie Hooker and Henry Schellingerhout were travelling along a road section between special stages eight and nine when they were hit head-on by a large tip truck. The pair were trapped in the twisted wreckage of the cabin for more than two hours while rescue personnel cut them free. They were then rushed by helicopter to Changsha with the rally's medical officer Dr Laurence Hou in company. Schellingerhout has internal bleeding and a fractured pelvis while Hooker has a broken fibia and tibula. Both were last night described as being in a stable condition. From the very first stage yesterday it was Eriksson in his Impreza who set the pace by pulling three seconds off Burns' lead. But the bad luck which has dogged him since the start of the rally struck again in the next timed section when he flew over a crest on stage eight and hit a rock, damaging his steering. He surrendered nine seconds to Burns on that stage and when clerk of the course Willard Martin cancelled stage nine on safety grounds after spectator numbers swelled, Eriksson was left shaking his head in frustration. But he finished strongly in the final 21.7-kilometre stage of the day at Ru Cheng Mill to clock a time of 13 minutes, 10 seconds, a full 20 seconds better than Burns' Mitsubishi Lancer. Former world champion and 1993 winner of the rally, Finn Ari Vatanen, was second quickest on that stage at 13:25. Vatanen, also driving a Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer, was last night second overall, one minute behind Burns. Yesterday's stages were new to the event and Vatanen - who did not do the recce - was disadvantaged. 'Fog and dust made it difficult and not having seen the stages before stopped me from driving at the limit,' Vatanen explained.