Stohl fights on in Greece for Hyundai Hyundai rookie Manfred Stohl and co-driver Ilka Minor continued a good pace on the longest day of the Jubilee edition of Acropolis Rally, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, to finish the...
Stohl fights on in Greece for Hyundai
Hyundai rookie Manfred Stohl and co-driver Ilka Minor continued a good pace on the longest day of the Jubilee edition of Acropolis Rally, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, to finish the leg in a commendable 10th position overall.
Ambient temperatures were higher than experienced on leg one, continuing to test the stamina of both driver and world rally machine. Many fell prey to the Greek conditions as the retirement list totalled 36, of an original 82 starters, by the end of the second day.
Considering Hyundai's OMV-sponsored crew are on their first competitive event in the Accent WRC", their progress is remarkable. Setting stage times just outside the top ten throughout the day, including two ninth fastest, overall Stohl was pleased with his progress.
"I'm very happy with the way I am learning the car - it's great as it suits my style perfectly on the twisty stages," commented the Austrian. "I was not too happy with my times on the fast stages but it's all about being 100% confident and knowing the car 100%."
On the Elatia-Zeli test, arguably the roughest of the event, the OMV crew damaged their Accent's gearbox following a heavy landing and were forced to complete the gruelling test with only second and sixth gears. "I think the impact deformed the chassis as well as we continued to have gear selection problems but we are fixing that in the final service of the day. It's not a big problem - it's just another challenge in getting used to the car.
Thinking about the final day of the event, Stohl added: "We are running fine and I'm still not pushing too hard. The team are fantastic and are giving me everything I have asked for - I'm pleased I'm driving this car on this rally. Tomorrow my target is to finish the rally. The stages tomorrow are not the roughest but there's still lots of challenges to catch out cars who are pushing too hard. I'm not particularly worried about my finishing position, although it would be nice to be in the top ten."
After a solid drive on leg one of the event, Hyundai privateer Jussi Valimäki and co-driver Tero Gardemeister were keen to increase their pace over the stages of leg two but were denied the chance when their Accent's clutch failed and the Finnish duo were unable to leave the early morning service.
Jussi explained: "During the 45 minute service on leg one the team changed the clutch but couldn't get the system to bleed out the air. I got into parc ferme and I managed to get the car back into service this morning but the clutch still wouldn't bleed. The boys worked really hard to sort the problem and finally it was ok but by then we were a few seconds, I think only 38 seconds, over the allowed amount of lateness. It's a pity as I liked the way the car felt yesterday - it was quite comfortable. I was feeling good today and I was confident we could get points."
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The second leg was as tough as the first. Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot) lost 1min 40sec on stage 10 with gearbox troubles, dropping him down the order from second to eighth position. The problem continued through the stage following and completing the test with only fourth, fifth and sixth gears meant the Finn was handed ninth position as a result. Petter Solberg (Subaru) had a problem with his front left driveshaft on SS11 and he resigned his newly adopted second position for fifth. The Norwegian also experienced overheating, sapping power from his engine on the tough Elatia-Zeli (SS13), but he was not alone in the problem as overheating also affected Roman Kresta (Peugeot) on SS15. Many crews also complained of softened shock absorbers as they took a pounding from the rough conditions and punctures were common. A heavy landing after the jump on the Lilea superspecial stage damaged the radiator of Roman Kresta's Peugeot enough to force his retirement on the road section en route to final service.
Markko Martin (Ford) continues to lead the rally and lies a comfortable 55.8 seconds ahead of second-placed Carlos Sainz (Citroën). Petter Solberg (Subaru) worked his way back up the leaderboard into third, as did Colin McRae (Citroën) who holds fourth. Tommi Makinen (Subaru) holds fifth.
The third and final day of the 50th Acropolis Rally features all new stages and three tests west of Lamia, each run twice, complete the final 105km of the event. Crews reach the finish ramp at 16:20hrs.