Peugeot pin their hopes on Richard Richard Burns is the lead Peugeot driver at the end of the Acropolis Rally's second leg, after a day of mixed fortunes for the World Championship-winning manufacturer. Conditions today were once more typical of...
Peugeot pin their hopes on Richard
Richard Burns is the lead Peugeot driver at the end of the Acropolis Rally's second leg, after a day of mixed fortunes for the World Championship-winning manufacturer. Conditions today were once more typical of the Acropolis Rally, with rough road surfaces and soaring temperatures.
The Englishman is sixth overnight, 5.7 seconds behind Subaru's Tommi Makinen and over a minute ahead of Peugeot team mate Harri Rovanpera. But Richard is aiming to improve his position tomorrow, in order to maximise his lead of the driver's World Championship.
Richard lost time yesterday after running first on the road, but was able to improve on his times thanks to a much better road position today. He started the day ninth and drove quickly and consistently to make sure of a finish well within the points by the end of the leg. Unfortunately, Richard suffered a gearbox problem on SS13 that deprived him of second gear. The rules dictate that his gearbox cannot be replaced because it has been changed once before on this rally. This means that Richard will be forced to continue to the end of the rally without second gear, but he has still been setting impressive times to reel in his opposition.
He said: "The most important thing is that we are still here and in a strong position to score points. We've seen already just how unpredictable this rally can be, so it's survival of the fittest. The gearbox problem is inconvenient, but I think I can drive around it. My main priority tomorrow will be to look after the gearbox to make sure that the car gets to the finish, but if I can make up another place safely then I'll be looking to do that."
Harri ends the day seventh, after having challenged for the lead on the opening stage of the day. But a worsening gear selection problem left him without second and third gears on the remaining two stages before service, which cost him time and dropped him to ninth. Undeterred, Harri fought back to climb to a points-scoring position by the end of the day. The Finn is determined not to give up, and has promised to continue his charge tomorrow.
"It was a real pity to lose so much time with the gearbox problem in the morning but this is rallying sometimes," he concluded. "I think we were in a very good situation to try and win, but we will never know. Anyway, there is no point thinking about this now. I just need to keep going and score as many points as I can for myself and Peugeot. Now the car feels good."
In eighth overall is Gilles Panizzi, driving a 2002-spec Peugeot 206 WRC run by Bozian Racing. The Frenchman had problems with his shock absorbers today, and was not able to match the top-five pace he demonstrated earlier in the event. But the problem improved over the final loop of stages, and he is currently just 3.8 seconds behind Rovanpera.
Tomorrow's final leg of the Acropolis Rally is the shortest, but also one of the toughest as it contains new stages that the teams are not familiar with. Three stages are run consecutively in the morning, then there is only one service halt before the three stages are run again. The winner is expected on the finish ramp in Lamia at 1600.