Acropolis: M-Sport final summary

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Car #23
Final Placing: 13th
Driver: Antony Warmbold (D)
Co driver: Gemma Price (GB)
Vehicle: Y3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC02)
Tyres: Michelin

Leg One: The crew discovered that oil had leaked into the front sump-guard during first service, however were unable to find the cause, narrowing it down to either the gearbox or the power steering. However once they'd topped up the car's fluids the problem didn't arise again during the day. The main challenge for the crew during leg one was acclimatising to the exhausting heat and they constantly battled to keep cool and hydrated during the long day. Using a bladder system so they can drink during stages they were also happy to reach the end of each leg where organisers were handing out bottled water. The changing surface of SS5 gave the duo a couple of big moments when they discovered they'd not made compensation in their notes for the very fast then very slow surface -- at one time quick thinking saw them having to literally drive up the side of a steep slope rather than go off. The drama continued at the super special stage that evening, when as the first competitor to run, Warmbold went into the crowd barrier as he was unable to see the stage for the amount of dust, however he did little damage to the car and returned to service to complete Leg One 15th.

Leg Two: It was a fairly uneventful day compared to Leg One, although a problem with the front diff locking under braking made the car under steer and difficult to drive through corners. Being first on the road offered no problems, with repeat stages swept clearer by the previous days action. Keeping their water intake up to compensate for the heat, the only challenge for Warmbold was keeping his neck and shoulders supple as the day's bumpy surfaces gave him pain in his neck and upper back. A consistent performance paid off, with Warmbold finishing in 13th overall.

Leg Three: With his sights set on the finish line, Warmbold maintained a good pace during the morning's stages. With no real opportunity to move into the top ten, he instead used today's stages to test different set ups with his car in preparation for the Cyprus Rally in two weeks time. This proved very successful for the young German, who with more aggressive diff settings made vast improvements on his times, improving up to one second a kilometre faster. A tired, hot but delighted Warmbold finished the Acropolis Rally in 13th overall.

Car #32
Final Placing: 15th
ADR Motorsport
Driver: Alistair Ginley
Co Driver: Rory Kennedy
Vehicle: EJ02 KMO (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Tyres: Pirelli
Sponsors: Carella, Pirelli

Leg One: The rough conditions of the Acropolis Rally proved to be even rougher for those running further down the order. Back in the drivers seat after a two-month break, Ginley used the first stage to reacquaint himself with his Ford Focus. A small stream in the stage caused some frustration, as after passing through it the splashing water caused condensation on the window, making it difficult to see the road. However they made it through safely only to hear a loud banging on the road section. Thankfully this was only a bent wheel rim knocking on the calliper and after changing the tire the duo continued. While a little frustrated not to be setting faster times Ginley conceded that they had a relatively trouble free day compared to most other competitors and were a lot nearer the pace than they were last year, finishing Leg One 16th overall.

Leg Two: A spin on the first stage of the day saw Ginley and Kennedy enlisting the support of the many spectators watching the event, as they couldn't select reverse and had to ask for assistance to push the car for a three point turn to get them facing in the right direction! The quick assistance of the fans meant the duo lost just 30 seconds. Despite the odd puncture, Ginley went on to complete a relatively easy day compared to many of the other competitors, the only glitch stalling twice at the start of SS15, and returned to Parc Ferme sitting 16th overall.

Leg Three: Happy with a top twenty finish, but frustrated at not being able to find the speed of his Focus' colleagues, Ginley continued to push through the long rough morning stages. With his sights set on teammate Papadimitriou, he worked hard through the morning closing the gap between the two to just 1.7 seconds by the day's second service. Unfortunately during the second set of three stages he encountered suspension troubles and opted not to push too hard to ensure he completed the even. Ginley was delighted to finish the event in 15th place and is looking forward to his next outing in Cyprus later this month.

Car #33
Final Placing: DNF
Driver: Tomasz Kuchar (PL)
Co driver: Maciej Szczepaniak (PL)
Vehicle: Y129 XEV (Ford Focus RS WRC02)
Tyres: Michelin

Leg One: Kuchar was proving to be a strong entry during the start of leg one, setting some good times and holding a steady grasp on the leader board despite a few anxious moments when they were amazed not to go off after a spin in the narrowest part of SS5 - the longest stage of the day. The drama continued when an ATS failed after a puncture not far from the end of SS6 but rather than stop and change the wheel, the duo decided to drive to the end of the stage. When they stopped on the road section to change the wheel and assess the considerable damage to the car as a result of the blown tire, they discovered water leaking from a radiator hose. Quick thinking saw Kuchar patch up the damage using strips of his tee shirt and tank tape but the duo were 12 minutes late for the next time control, resulting in a 2 minute penalty. Forced to run at a 1 minute interval for the last stage of the day amongst the slower S1600 entries proved even more frustrating as the much quicker Focus easily caught the lower powered entrants despite driving cautiously to compensate for the radiator damage. Upon arriving at the Super Special, a Parc Ferme prior to the start meant he couldn't top up his slowly leaking radiator, so he was forced to start the stage but then quickly pulled over to fill the radiator before continuing on to finish leg one in 17th.

Leg Two: After the amount of damage from leg one, Kuchar was keen to take a more cautious approach to leg two. The difference in speeds of the recce and the rally itself were evident as they adjusted their notes during the day to compensate for the bigger holes in the road and were pleased to get through the day without any damage to the car, lying 14th overall.

Leg Three: The first two stages of the day proved uneventful, as Kuchar continued his push for a finish on what has been a tough event for the young Pole. However on SS19 he rolled going into a right-hand hairpin -- catching a big rut and tipping the car over onto its roof. Thankfully the momentum righted the Focus and it landed on the wheels, allowing the duo to continue through the stage. Sustaining some panel damage they were pleased there was a service following the stage where technicians checked the damage and replaced the radiator. However their hopes of crossing the finish line were not to be realised, when their cambelt broke during SS20 and they stopped in the stage, forced to retire.

Car #34
Final Placing: DNF
Driver: Armodious Vovos
Co Driver: 'El- Em'
Vehicle: EX02 OBE (Ford Focus RS WRC02)
Tyres: Pirelli
Sponsors: Ford Greece, Pirelli

Leg One: The 50th Acropolis Rally was to be the undoing of five-times Greek Rally Champion Vovos, who retired on SS5 when his Focus left the road and ended up wedged precariously in a deep ditch. Almost an exact replica of the accident of Ford BP Rallye Sport's Francois Duval, the duo had no option but to retire as they were unable to move the car with no spectators to assist. While undamaged by the accident, once recovered by team mechanics, the car was unfortunately hit by another competitor, which damaged the exhaust and dented some panels. Unable to drive the car out, the team were forced to send further recovery crew in to trailer the Ford Focus from the stage.

Car # 35
Final Placing: 14th
JP Team
Driver: Ioannis (John) Papadimitriou (GR)
Co driver: Allan Harryman (GB/GB)
Vehicle: X5 FMC (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Tyres: Pirelli

Leg One: With his engine suffering a misfire, Papadimitriou was forced to run the first three stages on just 3 cylinders. The team worked hard to rectify the problem during the first service and fixed the problem. However it was to be a reoccurring problem which continued on throughout the day despite the team changing every mechanical engine component during the day's two 20-minute services. Undaunted, he went on to set the fasted time through SS4 of all the M-Sport Customer Focus entries. A power steering failure during the longest stage of the day saw him lose about two minutes however a philosophical Papadimitriou conceded he had had as difficult days in the past and he was lucky to have made it to the end of the first leg, unlike many of his competitors. Happy to finish inside the top 20, the team completed a trying Leg One in 18th overall.

Leg Two: Leg Two proved to be a fantastic day for Papadimitriou who set top ten stage times on all but two, cementing him as the top Greek driver so far. His only challenge was a front left puncture 20 kilometres from the end of SS14. Rather than risk loosing a massive amount of time, he chose to continue through the stage without changing it. The tyre was quickly worn as they passed over the rough surface and had virtually disintegrated by the end of the stage. Fortunately there was no damage to the suspension and the duo was able to simply change the wheel and continue to end the day at 15th overall.

Leg Three: Another good run for Papadimitriou, who, delighted with the set up of his Ford Focus, set consistent times throughout the morning. Trouble with his rear brakes meant he was forced to take it easy through the last group of stages however he was very happy to cross the finish line as the first Greek driver home in 14th place overall. Although due to compete next at the Cyprus Rally, Papadimitriou, a hotelier, has decided to forgo the event due to work commitments for preparation for the Olympics next year.

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Series WRC
Teams M-Sport