Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) created rallying history when he became the first driver to win five consecutive rounds. The Frenchman won by 1min 36.2sec and now leads the championship by 23 points. Behind Gardemeister, Carlos Sainz (Citroen) ended his...
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) created rallying history when he became the first driver to win five consecutive rounds. The Frenchman won by 1min 36.2sec and now leads the championship by 23 points. Behind Gardemeister, Carlos Sainz (Citroen) ended his WRC career with a podium finish. It was his 97th podium from 196 starts. Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) cruised through the final day to claim fourth while Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) took sixth, despite a tyre vibration on the opening two stages. Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi) and Markko Martin (Peugeot) claimed the final drivers' points while ninth for Petter Solberg (Subaru) earned his team the final manufacturers' point.
Re-united once again in Greece, Citroen's dream team produced another sensational result this weekend. Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC were in unbeatable form on their way to claiming their record-equalling sixth win of the season and their fifth in a row, also a record-equalling feat. Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti also played a capital role in the team's successful weekend by finishing in 3rd position. Their result enables Citroen to regain the lead in the Manufacturers' championship and the Spaniard, a living rally legend, was given a long ovation when he returned to the Lamia service park at the end of the rally to mark his 97th podium finish from 196 world class rallying starts, another truly historic performance! Symbolically, it was in Greece fifteen years ago that he took the first of his 26 WRC victories.
Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "I really took it easy. I wasn't even flat out along some straights over the pebbles towards the end of 'Perivoli'! Five wins in a row? It hasn't really sunk in yet!"
Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti: "A month and a half ago, I was following Citroen's results in the press and phoning up every now and again for a friendly chat. I didn't have the slightest idea I would soon find myself back competing with the Xsara WRC. It's been a fantastic weekend! I am proud to have succeeded in meeting the objective Guy set me, and proud to have scored valuable points in both events. The team is back on top of the championship and I hope it will stay there. They deserve it. As for me, I have finished my career in world class rallying on the podium of the event that gave me my first WRC win. What more could a sportsman ask for?"
After three difficult days of competition, Petter Solberg finished the Acropolis Rally of Greece in ninth place this afternoon. Despite a determined effort on today's stages to close the gap on the cars ahead, Solberg was unable to make up the time lost earlier in the rally. Stephane Sarrazin delivered an impressive performance on only his second gravel rally. Despite the disadvantage of running as one of the first cars through today's four slippery stages, the Frenchman grew in speed and confidence throughout the event.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "As you'd expect I'm disappointed with my result, it's not the one I was hoping for. In fact, I have been disappointed about my results on the last few rallies, that's for sure. But we have to put this aside and look forward to Argentina now. There are plenty of reasons to feel confident about the next rally; I know I can win it. We've reached the mid-point in the Championship and yes, I would have liked to have closed in on Seb, but it's certainly not over yet."
Stephane Sarrazin/Denis Giraudet: "I had a few problems with punctures and tyre choices on Friday and Saturday which interrupted my rhythm on this rally, but re-starting on Saturday allowed me more time to think about the car set-up and I think that was quite a benefit. Generally I'm very pleased with my performance. I think I am making good progress and I'm feeling confident about the future."
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen matched their career-best result by finishing second on the Acropolis Rally of Greece today in a Focus RS World Rally Car. The Finns equalled their runner-up position on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally and climbed to third in the FIA World Rally Championship as the series reached its midpoint. They are one of only two pairings to have scored points on all eight rounds to date.
Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "We've had no big problems and the whole weekend has gone well. We've pushed hard from the very first kilometre. It's hard to fight against someone as experienced as Carlos but we did it. The Focus has worked well, Michelin's tyres have been excellent and now we have to try to turn second place into a win in the second half of the season."
Roman Kresta/Jan Mozny: Retired (electrical problems)
The final leg of the Acropolis Rally saw no surprises or twists, despite the fearsome reputation of the four stages that made up the end of the Greek event. The last 100 kilometres did not alter the leaderboard, with Marcus Gronholm too far behind Carlos Sainz to stand any hope of catching the Citroen driver. Instead Marcus sensibly chose to make sure of the points for fourth place. Markko Martin had no problems, but he is still looking for a way to find confidence in his 307 WRC.
Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "There was nothing we could do today; the only thing that could happen is that we made a mistake and went off. So I thought it was best just to bring the car home and make sure of the points. The roads were very rough and extremely dusty. It's been a disappointing rally as we were leading for most of the first day and we would have had a chance to challenge for the win. Looking on the positive side, the performance of the car is better and this is what we have to concentrate on for the future."
Markko Martin/Michael Park: "This has been a strange rally for us: we have had no real problems but we have struggled a bit to find the proper feeling in the car. On the whole our tyre choices have been fine and we have had no mechanical problems at all. We have been able to continue our record of finishing every rally so far this year, and with more time I hope to find a better feeling in the car."
Armin Schwarz fought back from 48th position after the opening day to complete the Acropolis Rally of Greece in 18th place. Engine problems halted his progress after the second stage but he continued under SupeRally, picking up sufficient time penalties to deny him a possible points-scoring finish.
Martin Muehlmeier (Head of Skoda Motorsport): "We had hoped that we would be able to show the improvements we have seen in testing on this event but this has not been the case. Once again we had problems early in the event that destroyed our chances. Today's stages have been quite similar to some of the ones we will use in Argentina so Armin has been testing some suspension settings and his times have been quite encouraging. I was also quite pleased with Jani's performance on the first day after being away for several rallies. I still believe that we can get the results we need in the coming events but I also hope that our luck changes very quickly for the better as well."
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team completed a successful Acropolis Rally, its crews bringing both cars to points-scoring finishes in what is viewed as one of the toughest rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship. Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen headed the assault and brought their Lancer WRC05 home in sixth position, while team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore finished hot on their heels in seventh.
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "It was really good to be in a battle and to finish sixth and get points in a rough rally like Greece is good news. It's been a hot weekend and I'm happy our car has worked so well. Every stage was nice, we had no dramas and although the conditions were maybe a little easier than previous years, it was still a normal Acropolis. We've fought all weekend and sixth didn't come easily; I'm especially happy for Mario (Fornaris) that we had a good result on his last rally with the team."
Gigi Galli/Guido D'Amore: "Everything has gone the right way for us; I am happy. I have to say this was always going to be the hardest rally of the year for me, because of my lack of experience, but things have worked well, the car has been very good and I think the whole team should be pleased for a good job. What I can say is that the rally was easier than I expected; I thought it would be rougher from what everyone said."