Rocks and rewards... Greece is a favoured destination for lovers of antique pottery, but the Acropolis Rally was characterised by stones that were somewhat less ancient and more aggressive than anything found in a museum. At the end of the rough...
Rocks and rewards...
Greece is a favoured destination for lovers of antique pottery, but the Acropolis Rally was characterised by stones that were somewhat less ancient and more aggressive than anything found in a museum. At the end of the rough and rocky stages, Kronos Racing finishes once more with all three Citroen Xsaras in the points.
Thanks to Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, who finished second, and Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio, who were eighth the Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team will spend the two-month summer break leading both the drivers and manufacturers championships.
Having swept the road clean at the start of the rally, Seb dropped 35 seconds on Friday. With a better set-up for the conditions he took second place and reduced the gap to the leader to 25 seconds, before a puncture on Saturday evening obliged him to call a ceasefire and settle for the eight points that came with second place.
" It was a difficult rally " concluded the World Championship leader. " What with sweeping the road clean, getting a puncture and a tricky journey back to service, I'm very happy to come away with eight points for second place. Once more, I take my hat off to the entire Kronos team for putting my Xsara back into shape on Saturday night. Marcus was very quick, but nonetheless we managed to get some time back off him on Saturday. From Germany onwards, I know he'll be right there. It will be a very close fight, as always, but those tight battles with him are always the best ones... "
Xevi Pons will probably be able to challenge for the world puncture record, having collected them throughout the event. Thankfully he was prevented from losing too much time by BFGoodrich's anti-deflation mousse, which holds up the tyre if any air escapes. " I can't hide the fact that I am personally a bit disappointed " said Xevi openly. " I expected to be a bit quicker on this terrain that we were all discovering for the first time. As well as that or perhaps because of that I didn't really enjoy myself here. It's not nice to hear the car taking all those impacts, to be constantly on edge and not to be able to drive in a relaxed way. Luckily I succeeded in my main objective, which was to bring some manufacturer points to the team. " Dani Sordo, in a third Kronos-run Xsara rented by his loyal backers, once more surpassed expectations. The results of his first half-season in a World Rally Car are almost unheard of : eight rallies, eight finishes, seven times in the points, and three podiums ! The Spaniard from Santander climbed as high as fourth overall in Greece by getting the better of Manfred Stohl, Henning Solberg and Toni Gardemeister. The fact that a faulty spark plug on SS14 dropped him to sixth is almost academic. Dani said : " I'm pleased to finish just 0.8 seconds from Henning Solberg, having taken more than 30 seconds off him in two stages. Without the kilometres I spent stuck in the dust behind Kosti Kajamaki, who set off just in front of me on Avlonas [SS14] everything would have been fine. "
"We've just been through an Acropolis Rally that is truly worthy of its legend " concluded Kronos team principal Marc Van Dalen. " The rough roads have certainly taken their toll on us but with all three Xsaras well- placed at the finish, our team has once more shown the quality of its work. We go into the second half of the season leading both championships and we will do everything to ensure that we continue to deserve the confidence of Citroen Sport and our partners... "