Red Bull Skoda manages to climb up the order on day two of Rally Acropolis despite some serious problems A very eventful second day of the 53rd Rally Acropolis in Greece for Red Bull Skoda. Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen were struggling...
Red Bull Skoda manages to climb up the order on day two of Rally Acropolis despite some serious problems
A very eventful second day of the 53rd Rally Acropolis in Greece for Red Bull Skoda. Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen were struggling with a faulty on-board intercom system in the morning, in the afternoon big rocks on the road led to a broken rim, a smashed shock absorber and a cut tyre. Andreas Aigner was hit even worse. The Austrian had four tyre failures on the penultimate stage of the day, and not only had to complete an entire stage driving on the rim, but also the remaining road section of more than 50 kilometres back to Athens. This meant positions 12 and 15 for the two Red Bull driver at the end of the second leg. "By replacing parts and changing the setup constantly, both Fabia WRC were faster today than on the first day. Unfortunately a huge number of tyre failures intervened, but we are quite happy with the performance of our drivers today", team managers Raimund Baumschlager and Armin Schwarz explained.
Harri Rovanpera gives a sobering summary: "I was feeling more comfortable in the car today compared to yesterday. Unfortunately a connector had unplugged itself from the helmet in the morning, so communication between Risto and myself was limited and then failed altogether in one stage. We lost a vital amount of time that way. At the midday service we replaced the rear axle, which turned out to be a good decision. Sadly our increase in speed was impaired by tyre failures. Now I hope to get to the finish tomorrow without any further problems, maybe we can gather a few points for the manufacturers' championship."
Andreas Aigner was visibly ravaged by the grueling special stages: "I don't feel physically fit yet which is fatal on these long stages in scorching conditions. The car was very good to drive today, I felt quite comfortable. On the long 37 kilometres stage I picked up three tyre failures caused by big rocks, and on the final SS a fourth tyre went 6 k before the end of the stage. From this moment on I had to drive to the finish on the left rear rim. Summing up, I lost four minutes that way. This sadly means P15 instead of P11 overall, but I'm satisfied with my performance as a driver in Greece so far."
There was a lot going on at the top of the overall standings as well. Finland's Marcus Gronholm (Ford) continues to lead, but his closest competitors, Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg were struggling with various problems. Petter Solberg was in third when he was involved in a traffic accident on the road section to the final special stage and had to park his car. He will probably restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules. World champion Sebastien Loeb lost 1:22 minutes on the final special stage because of a tyre failure and is now already 1:47 minutes behind Gronholm. Manfred Stohl had overheating issues, but was able to finish the second day in a solid fifth position.
Yesterday evening the presentation of the specially created wine "Shakedown" took place in the Red Bull Skoda hospitality before an assembled international press. Willi Opitz from Illmitz in Burgenland, well- known in Formula 1 for his exclusive McLaren wine, treated his numerous guests to some of his top wines and skilful presentation. The entire team with Rovanpera, Aigner, Schwarz and Baumschlager was present, as was the famous football player Erol Bulut. The Greek, playing for Olympiakos Piraus at the moment, had been under contract for Eintracht Frankfurt and 1860 Munich in Germany before. He too was enthusiastic about the new rally wine "Shakedown".