'Marshall beats the heat to take fifth in Greece'. 23 year old Junior World Rally Championship competitor Olly Marshall moved into 8th place in the championship standings after a tenacious drive saw him net a fine fifth overall in Super 1600 ...
'Marshall beats the heat to take fifth in Greece'.
23 year old Junior World Rally Championship competitor Olly Marshall moved into 8th place in the championship standings after a tenacious drive saw him net a fine fifth overall in Super 1600 category on the 51st Acropolis Rally, held in Greece last weekend.
Driving his ProSpeed Motorsport run Renault Clio Super 1600 car, York based Olly was determined to make up for a disappointing start to the season on the Monte Carlo Rally, where he left the road in a well documented accident on the penultimate day of the rally.
As the ProSpeed team headed over to mainland Greece for the three day test of endurance on the most punishing roads in the World Rally Championship, Marshall was under strict instructions to make it to the finish of the event. Rough, rocky gravel roads are the norm on the popular rally, and whilst the cars take a beating on the stages -- so do the crews -- with temperatures approaching 60c at times inside the cars.
With Oswestry based co-driver Craig Parry co-driving as usual, Marshall made a steady start to the event, after completing a good recce of the stages before hand. With 20 JWRC contenders all battling it out for positions, Olly was pleased to be 14th after the first few stages, as he picked up the pace steadily, whilst keeping one eye on preserving the Clio for the days ahead.
As Marshall kept a clean and tidy line on the rock strewn roads, his other rivals were not being as cautious, and soon Marshall found himself approaching the Top 10 with a number of competitors falling foul of the conditions. Unfortunately for Olly, despite his cautious approach, a double puncture early on the Friday leg of stages cost near 7 minutes as Marshall and Parry swapped the tyres over. Marshall's time loss all the greater as he had to take it very steadily through the next two stages -- knowing that another puncture might end his rally on the spot with a 75 kilometre road section to make it back to service. The cautious approach served Olly well as he made it back to service with four inflated tyres, although the time loss meant that he dropped to the back of the field.
Despite the disappointment of losing so much time, Marshall was buoyed by the fact that he was still running and his Renault Clio was still in fine fettle. Olly picked up the pace slightly over the next few stages on the Friday to leave himself close to scoring a World Rally Championship point for the first time on the Saturday leg.
Attrition was high again on the Saturday, as Olly moved up the order steadily, and found himself in 8th position -- with one championship point available if he held that spot. Marshall lost yet more time as he followed a stricken Fiat Punto out of a stage on the Saturday, as the Italian machine kicked up huge trails of dust with its rear tyre shredded to pieces. Marshall recovered to set Top 5 stage times throughout the rest of the day, and with just six stages on the Sunday left to do, Olly and Craig were confident of reaching the finish.
A steady drive on the final day yielded two 4th fastest JWRC stage times as Olly reached the finish in 5th place overall in the JWRC standings. With such a high attrition rate amongst the JWRC crews, Marshall was delighted to have reached the finish off the toughest event in the calendar:
"I'm absolutely delighted to claim 5 championship points and find myself in 8th position in the series after two rounds. Obviously the conditions are exceptionally tough in Greece, and our game plan was to learn the lesson of Monte Carlo and make sure that we completed every stage of the rally. It was very difficult to pick our way through the stages at times, but the Clio stood up to the test very well and is virtually undamaged underneath -- a strong testament to the build quality of the car, and the work that ProSpeed Motorsport have put into preparing the Clio.
The car is in very good shape ahead of the next event in Turkey, and we go there with the same plan as Greece -- to learn about the stages and the set ups of the Clio. We did set some reasonably competitive stage times in Greece, but I am realistic in the sense that we are not likely to be setting the pace anywhere this year. However, I take confidence in the fact that we are working on building our experience of the events ahead of next year, and to be scoring championship points in the process is a major bonus."
Marshall and Parry head to the rough gravel stages of Turkey next, as they contest the Rally of Turkey on June 25-27. Marshall's aim is to finish the event and will strive to be in a points scoring position by the end of the three day rally.