The second leg of the Acropolis Rally was long and demanding for the mechanics, but it was a positive day for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio consolidated their second position in the overall standings, whilst Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen moved up from 15th to 8th place.
Held entirely on roads in the Peloponnese, the four stages used on this leg formed a loop that was run twice over the course of the day. Featuring 149 kilometres of timed stages, today’s leg covered half of the total distance of the rally, providing the drivers with a genuine test of guts and bravery. Faced with the roughest road conditions of the season, all the cars opted to run with hard Michelin Latitude Cross tyres and take two spare wheels.
Fifteenth after suffering a technical problem on Friday, Mikko Hirvonen began to climb up through the field as he put together an excellent series of times, given his starting position. Other drivers also ran into trouble, allowing the Finn to move up to eighth overall by lunchtime. “Everything went well and we were able to adopt the pace we wanted”, he confirmed. “We have to keep going like that, even though it will be difficult to make up any more places under normal circumstances. But you never know what’s going to happen at this rally.”
Even more damaged and cut up on the second loop, the roads of the Corinthia region claimed further victims in the afternoon. Khalid Al-Qassimi, who had been making solid progress since the start of the day, ran into trouble on Ghymno 2 (SS8): the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team’s DS3 WRC went off and was thrown into a roll. As the car’s roll cage was damaged, the crew will be unable to rejoin the rally tomorrow.
Despite rain falling on Ziria 2 (SS10), Dani Sordo made it to the end of the leg without incident. His overall assessment was very positive: “I’m pleased to have done what the team asked me to do. It wasn’t easy, however, because the roads were really damaged on the second run. We have to do one more day with the same attitude in order to secure a good result in Greece.”
Mikko Hirvonen had a more difficult second loop, as he picked up a puncture on two separate occasions: “We were just really unlucky. It’s nearly impossible to avoid all the rocks, unless you driver a lot slower. It just didn’t happen for us today, but there weren’t any direct consequences as regards our race.”
Already leading the WRC2 at the end of the first leg, Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran continued to dominate their category. The DS3 RRC crew set the fastest time on seven of the eight stages to extend their lead to 2:20.2. “This rally is just as tough as everyone says it is. I’m pleased with what we have done today”, said the Polish driver. “I liked the wide and quick sections more than the tricky places, but it’s the same for everybody. When you are competing here for the first time, there are many things you have to take into account.”