Leg 3 Late last night leader Petter Solberg (Subaru) received a 30 second penalty for not having mudguards fitted to his car earlier in the day, slicing his lead to just 28.5sec. However, he remained in control throughout today to win by...
Late last night leader Petter Solberg (Subaru) received a 30 second penalty for not having mudguards fitted to his car earlier in the day, slicing his lead to just 28.5sec. However, he remained in control throughout today to win by 18.4sec. Harri Rovanperä (Peugeot) and Sebastian Loeb (Citroen) enjoyed a thrilling battle for second.
Loeb closed in on the second-placed Finn during the morning before moving ahead in the afternoon and holding on to claim the runners-up spot by 9.9sec. Behind Duval, Daniel Carlsson was the leading private entrant in fifth ahead of Manfred Stohl.
Tuohino and Vovos claimed the final drivers points. Gilles Panizzi (Mitsubishi) was on course for sixth until engine problems this afternoon cost him four places. Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot), re-starting today under the 'SupeRally' system, rolled on the first stage this morning but continued.
Subaru driver Petter Solberg retained the overnight lead to claim his first ever victory on the Acropolis Rally of Greece today. The result means that Solberg is the only driver in the WRC to have scored points on each of the six rallies so far this season. Moving up to second place in the Drivers' Championship, Petter and co-driver Phil Mills are just five points behind the lead of the series. The win marked Subaru's 41st WRC win, the 40th for the Subaru Impreza and Subaru's fifth win on the Acropolis Rally of Greece.
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: It's fantastic, very, very good indeed! It's been a hard rally, and a tough fight, right from the start, but to get this result after the disappointment we had in Cyprus feels very good. You know it's hard work to keep adjusting the pace to keep position, but the team kept the split times coming in and everything worked perfectly today - there were no problems at all. The penalty didn't really affect me much, last night when I heard the decision I have to say I was a bit fed up, but when I woke up this morning I just laughed, it just seemed like a joke. I must say that the car is incredible, and the tyres, the mechanics, everyone in the team is working so well I can't thank them enough and it seems that for now anything is possible.
Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen: Retired
Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera has finished third on the Acropolis Rally, round six of the World Rally Championship. The Finn enjoyed a fast and reliable run throughout the three days of the Greek event, scoring valuable points for himself and Peugeot.
Marcus Gronhölm / Timo Rautiainen: Marcus Gronholm took the rally lead on the opening leg, but he was unfortunately forced to retire yesterday after damaging his suspension against a rock. Under the trial of the new super rally system, Marcus was able to drive through today's stages without being eligible to score points. However, he completed some useful testing work in preparation for the Rally of Turkey.
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen: "I'm pleased with this result, although I've not been entirely confident with the car throughout the three days of the event. I didn't have a good feeling with the suspension over the bumps yesterday, and this morning was a little bit the same. The most important thing though is that the car is both reliable and fast, and we clearly have the pace to run at the front. I think we're in very good shape for the next rally in Turkey now, which I was leading last year, and I'm hoping for an even better result than the one here in Greece..."
Citroën now leads both the drivers' and the manufacturers' World Rally Championship title chases after another fine performance at weekend (4-6 June 2004) in the Acropolis Rally, the Greek round of the WRC, with Citroën the only manufacturer to bring all its team across the finish line. Sébastien Loeb finished second overall to strengthen his hold on the drivers' title race and that result enabled Citroën to regain the lead in the manufacturers' championship aided by three points from Carlos Sainz also bringing his Citroën Xsara home.
Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: The third SS of the loop, "Styrfaka", was new for everyone. "This special stage is very difficult," Sébastien explained. "It is barely wider than the car, with peaks where you can only see the sky beyond the end of the bonnet, followed by corners which get tighter. That was there I took my chances, pushing as hard as I could." "It was a fine and exciting race," a smiling Sébastien said at the finish line. "We were able to climb back up because the car was perfect."
Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti: Carlos lost all hopes of a good finish with a broken shock absorber on SS4. "My own race stopped at that point," the Spanish Champion noted. "But that of Citroën carried on. I am happy to have claimed three points, and to have been able to help Sébastien."
Ford BP Rallye Sport drivers François Duval and Stéphane Prévot finished fourth on the Acropolis Rally today after the Greek event lived up to its reputation as one of the most gruelling events in the FIA World Rally Championship. This sixth round became a rally of attrition as rocky mountain tracks sidelined more than half the entry, but Duval and Prévot headed a quartet of Ford Focus RS World Rally Cars on the leaderboard.
Markko Martin / Michael Park: Märtin and co-driver Michael Park continued their testing programme today under the experimental 'SupeRally' system, which allows retired cars to re-start in subsequent legs. After tyre and suspension work yesterday in their Castrol-backed Focus RS, they concentrated on trying different differential settings and more tyre work today. With no pressure of competition, they even had time to stop for an ice-cream after the final stage en route to the finish!
Francios Duval / Stefan Prevot: "It's been a good weekend," said Duval. "A podium would have been nice. We tried to match Rovanperä and Loeb early this morning but could not do it so we eased off and settled for fourth. We didn't want to take any risks and that tactic paid off. This is the first time I have finished the event in four starts. "Today was especially hard because all the stages were new to me. But we have made improvements to our pace notes as well as driving quickly and that's good for the future. With Markko having retired on Friday, it was important to finish and score points for Ford," he added.
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports scored points in the Acropolis Rally when its lead Lancer WRC04, piloted by the all-French crew of Gilles Panizzi/Hervé Panizzi, finished the event in Lamia this afternoon. The Panizzi brothers had been on course to score three drivers' points for sixth position; however they were robbed when a last minute engine problem dropped them to 10th position after fighting over 377.13 of the roughest and most grueling competitive kilometers in the series.
Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi: "Obviously this afternoon is disappointing for the engineers and mechanics, but I fought for them to bring the car to the finish. I am very happy to score manufacturer points for Mitsubishi. Our performance was obviously better than Cyprus and I'm happy to finish such a tough and hard event. I feel an upward trend".
Dani Sola / Xavier Amigo: The SUPERally' regulations were very important to me and the team here and we have gained a lot of knowledge and experience because of this", commented Dani. "The mechanics did a big job to get us back in the rally for the second leg and I am happy to have completed the rest of the route. Life is not always easy, but this is a great opportunity for me to show the team my qualities, and although we had some problems we have all learned a lot. Mario (Fornaris) changed our damper settings this afternoon and even though we had no third gear, our times improved; for sure we are making progress".
The Skoda Motorsport Team contested all three legs of the Acropolis Rally despite having to withdraw from the competitive part of the event. Both Toni Gardemeister and team mate Armin Schwarz retired from the rally on Friday but new rules introduced before this event meant that they were able to contest the remaining 13 stages for valuable test purposes.
Armin Schwarz / Manfred Hiemer: "Today Toni and I were trying different options with tyres to see what worked and what didn't. Overall I was pleased that, when we were running in our correct position, our pace was as quick as we had expected from the pre-rally tests. We have identified areas where we need to make further improvements so this has been a good first rally for us."
Toni Gardemeister / Paavo Lukander: "The first day of this rally was very positive for us and for me to be sixth overall after stages four and five was a good indication of the improvements we have made. Yesterday wasn't so good because of our start position at the head of the field and today was only a little bit better but we have learned a lot and that was our main objective."
Next Event - Rally of Turkey: 25-27 June 2004
Teams move to Turkey for the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship and the last of a trio of hot, rough rallies. Beginning on Thursday 24 June, the rally, which has been moved from its original February date is now in its second WRC year and will once again be based around a single service point in the holiday resort of Kemer. Crews will contest 383.33 competitive kilometres, over three Legs and 17 gravel stages, run over twisty mountain roads.