TÄNAK CLIMBS TIMESHEETS BUT DISAPPOINTMENT FOR NOVIKOV AS THE GOING GETS ROUGH
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak set some strong times over the second day of competition at the 58th Acropolis Rally. But whereas Tänak climbed the timesheets, there was heartache for Novikov – falling prey to the treacherous stages and having to restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.
Crossing the famous Corinth Canal, the second day of competition saw M-Sport’s youngsters embark on 149.56km with two identical loops of four stages. Based in the Peloponnese peninsula, the area’s natural beauty masks some of the roughest stages in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Littered with large rocks, the bumpy stages provided some demanding terrain with mixed fortunes for the M-Sport pairing.
Continuing what has been an impressive showing this weekend, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet proved their pace over the morning’s opening tests. Setting successive top-five times over the opening two stages, the Russian was able to keep in touch with the four evenly-matched manufacturer cars ahead. But there was heartache on the first pass over Kefalari (SS12) as the ALM Russia supported driver suffered a damaged radiator. Losing water, this increased the engine temperatures and the 21-year-old chose to retire his Ford Fiesta RS WRC so as not to risk any further damage.
Elsewhere, Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk put the disappointments of yesterday firmly behind them. Rising to the challenge over the roughest day of competition yet to be seen in this year’s championship, the Estonian set a string of top-ten times over the morning loop to climb five places from 21st to 16th overall.
Embarking on the second loop, Tänak had to contend with further challenges as the previous pass exposed the treacherous underlying bedrock. With composure behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the 24-year-old increased his pace to set a string of competitive times including a fourth fastest time through the torrential rain of SS15 – 3.9 seconds up on Portugal winner Mads Østberg – to lie 12th heading into the final day.
Ott Tänak (12th) said:
“The first stage [SS14] was ok. It was quite smooth and for sure the tyres were wearing quite a lot but I really enjoyed it – we did our best and our times were pretty good too. The next stage [SS15] was very rough – I thought we could try and push a little but it was quite hard for the car so we slowed down a bit. Then on the third stage [SS16] it started to rain and was really muddy in places. It was quite tricky but we had no problems and took no big risks. Tomorrow we will just carry on the same as today: start slowly and pick up the pace as the day goes on.”