Points for Petter Solberg and Kimi Räikkönen
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson set the early pace in Greece before finishing fourth on the Acropolis Rally, round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström proved to be increasingly competitive, finally finishing in seventh overall on the event. The two Citroën DS3 WRCs entered by Van Merksteijn Motorsport retired on the opening day of the rally.
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson have been among the frontrunners since the start of the season, and they were the first to show their true form on the tricky Greek stages. They strung together four fastest stage times to occupy the top of the time sheets by the end of the first day of the Acropolis Rally on Friday.
Petter and Chris established an advantage of more than 50 seconds over the chasing trio that consisted of Sébastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen and Sébastien Ogier, but this consequently forced them into running first on the road throughout Saturday. The loose surface caused the crew some difficulties, but nonetheless the Petter Solberg World Rally Team duo managed to end the day on the provisional podium, just 20 seconds or so off the leaders. Petter Solberg fought against Mikko Hirvonen on the final day to end up fourth at the finish, scoring 12 precious championship points.
“I pushed really hard and gave it everything I had,” said the Norwegian. “I’m pleased with our performance and my driving as well as with the team, who all did a fantastic job. We couldn’t have done better; it just wasn’t possible. We’re a private team and we’re fighting against the factory outfits.”
Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström missed the previous two events, which were not on their programme, but they were soon back into the groove from the very beginning. By the end of the opening day they were 10th despite a puncture. They then picked up their pace throughout Saturday to make progress up the leaderboard and claim seventh place on SS8. The Ice 1 Racing crew showed their consistency to hold onto the position until the end, having managed their rally perfectly.
“We weren’t the quickest out there but our goal was to steer clear of problems in order to be there at the end,” said the Finnish driver. “The final two days in Greece were extremely satisfying. It’s a great result for us before heading to Rally Finland.”
The two Citroën DS3 WRCs entered by Van Merksteijn Motorsport did not make it to the end of the opening day. Peter van Merksteijn Jr went off the road on SS3. His co-driver Eddy Chevaillier was taken to hospital in Lamia and then airlifted to Athens for further medical examination. He has a fracture and a crack in his lumbar vertebrae, which will mean that he needs to be immobilised for about 10 days. The entire Citroën Racing team wishes him a full and swift recovery. Peter van Merskteijn Sr went off the road in the team’s other DS3 WRC on SS5.
-source: citroen racing technologies