After a final leg taking place under boiling temperatures, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti succeeded in warding off Petter Solberg's attacks and maintained their second position overall. Colin McRae and Derek Ringer were comfortably lying fourth two...
After a final leg taking place under boiling temperatures, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti succeeded in warding off Petter Solberg's attacks and maintained their second position overall.
Colin McRae and Derek Ringer were comfortably lying fourth two stages from the finish when they dropped four places due to an electronics related problem. They lost the benefit of a fantastic drive but brought two valuable points to team, added to the eight scored by Carlos Sainz. Citroën is therefore reducing the gap with the Manufacturers' Championship leader.
As predicted by Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae last night, the final leg of the Acropolis Rally turned up to be as difficult as the first two. The three stages of the day - to be run twice each - were rough and slow.
The dual between Carlos Sainz and Petter Solberg started in these extreme conditions. Carlos began at the wrong pace on stage 17, and lost three quarters of his lead straight away. Petter Solberg caught up with the Spaniard on the two following tests (SS18 and 19) finishing less than one second behind, and even passed him on stage 20. But as they say "with Carlos it's never over!". Very strong in "Tarzan" (SS21), the Madrid-based driver took back his second position and defended his lead to the Norwegian in the final stage of the rally.
"The first day wasn't easy because of our starting order. But the car was just perfect so we came back in the fight and could hold our position. Our second place secures our rankings in both Championships and that's simply great."
Marc Marti was judging his team-mate's performance and was enthusiastic: "Driving during three days at this pace without making any mistakes is exceptional !"
Although Colin expected the third leg to be difficult, he also hoped for a trouble-free run. But in the first pass through "Tarzan" the heat is thought to have caused an electronics related problem which led to an engine cut out and stopped the Scot from using his throttle. He lost four places."For sure I'm disappointed. But we set some good times and it's showing we performed well here. See you in Cyprus."
Finishing second and fourth was just our target", said team boss Guy Fréquelin."We are delighted with Carlos' result and I regret we cannot benefit more from Colin's great race. However what we should remember is how much we have improved on this tricky terrain since last year. We will try to confirm this progress in two weeks."