Harri Rovanpera and Marcus Gronholm have finished leg one of the Acropolis Rally in second and fourth places respectively. The pair of Finns are well-poised to continue their assault on Greece's round of the World Championship tomorrow, having...
Harri Rovanpera and Marcus Gronholm have finished leg one of the Acropolis Rally in second and fourth places respectively. The pair of Finns are well-poised to continue their assault on Greece's round of the World Championship tomorrow, having each set fastest times on today's demanding stages.
The Acropolis Rally, round six of the World Championship, is one of the toughest of the year, characterised by sharp rocks and high temperatures. Although the road surfaces are notoriously rough, some sections are flat-out as well. Today's action consisted of seven proper gravel stages concluding with a run through the spectator superspecial at Lilea. The weather was typically hot, although there was a threat of intermittent rain throughout the day.
Harri set fastest time on the opening stage of the day, and soon moved up to second place. His Peugeot 307 WRC was entirely reliable throughout the leg, although he felt he lacked confidence in the suspension set-up during the middle loop of stages. Nonetheless, he maintains a solid second place.
Harri said: "Today has been quite good, although there were a couple of times when we knocked the steering out of line slightly against a rock. I didn't have an ideal feeling with the car in the afternoon stages, but it's been a consistent finish to the day and it's always good to be in second place. There's still a long way to go, so who knows what will happen."
Marcus also enjoyed perfect reliability all day, taking the lead on the opening stage of the leg. He dropped time with a couple of spins during the afternoon, and also lacked confidence in the suspension set-up of his 307 WRC during the middle loop of stages.
Some adjustments during service helped to improve the situation, but a bad tyre choice for the final loop of stages meant that Marcus ended the leg in fourth.
"It's not been a perfect day," said Marcus. "For some reason I was struggling with the car a little bit during the afternoon and then we made a bad tyre choice for the final stages. In general, the stages were more slippery than I expected but I am still feeling confident. We'll be back fighting tomorrow!"
Tomorrow takes in seven more stages, with the first loop of four run consecutively. Only a 'remote service' is allowed after the first two stages, in which teams can change tyres and add fuel, but only replace components that are carried in the car.
The final loop of three stages will also be run consecutively, after service at lunch time in Lamia. The first car will leave Parc Ferme at 0700, and is expected back at 1851.