WRC

Acropolis Toyota Review

Tuesday 9 June - LEG THREE (STAGES 13 - 17) Auriol second and Sainz fourth in dramatic Acropolis Rally Toyota Castrol Team driver Didier Auriol came within an ace of winning the action-packed 45th edition of the Acropolis...

Tuesday 9 June - LEG THREE (STAGES 13 - 17) Auriol second and Sainz fourth in dramatic Acropolis Rally Toyota Castrol Team driver Didier Auriol came within an ace of winning the action-packed 45th edition of the Acropolis Rally which finished in Delphi today. The Frenchman and his compatriot Denis Giraudet were leading the rally until the penultimate stage when a heavy landing caused a fuel-pump fuse to pop out and cut the engine, losing Auriol 40 seconds. At the end of the final stage he was second, just 20 seconds behind winner Colin McRae. Auriol's team mate Carlos Sainz had also been in contention for the victory until he too hit problems on the final leg. Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya recovered to take fourth place, while Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets made it three Toyota Corolla WRCs in the top five with their Marlboro Toyota Castrol Team car. "Naturally it's disappointing to lose the lead, especially so close to the end," said Auriol after the rally finished, "but I feel I did a good job again and proved how competitive we can be." Going into the final stage he was close behind McRae. Both attacked and set times half a second apart, so the win was McRae's. Sainz and Moya had been poised to make their own challenge for top honours. The Spanish pairing had set the fastest times on each of the last three stages of the second leg to put themselves in position for a final leg attack just 15.9 seconds, behind leader Auriol. Then on stage 14 - the second of the final leg a power-steering problem cost them over a minute. The rack was changed at the following service area, but with just three stages left to run, their victory hopes were over. "It went about 10km into the stage and really there was nothing I could do about it," said Saiinz. "I just had to try to get to service with the minimum time loss. Of course it is a pity, but the we were right on the pace and, even though we've now lost the lead in the drivers' championship, we are still in a very strong position." Fifth place was also satisfying for Loix. He had set a series of competitive stage times, but various problems, including a broken driveshaft at the end of the second leg put him out of the fight for the lead. "It's great to have been right up with Didier, Carlos and the other top runners and to finish well up in the points," said Loix. Ove Andersson, President Toyota Motorsport, is looking to the future: "We're now coming up to the big mid-season championship break," he said "and we will be working very hard to make the cars even more competitive for the rest of the year." Toyota Corolla WRCs were also seventh and 12th on the rally, with Grifone's Rui Madeira and Nuno da Silva seventh and the first of the FIA Teams' Cup runners to finish and Greek star Angelo Zivas 12th with Stelios Fakalis in the Toyota Hellas car.

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Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Freddy Loix , Luis Moya , Denis Giraudet , Sven Smeets , Rui Madeira