Subaru driver Petter Solberg retained the overnight lead to claim his first ever victory on the Acropolis Rally of Greece today. The result means that Solberg is the only driver in the WRC to have scored points on each of the six rallies so far...
Subaru driver Petter Solberg retained the overnight lead to claim his first ever victory on the Acropolis Rally of Greece today. The result means that Solberg is the only driver in the WRC to have scored points on each of the six rallies so far this season. Moving up to second place in the Drivers' Championship, Petter and co-driver Phil Mills are just five points behind the lead of the series. The win marked Subaru's 41st WRC win, the 40th for the Subaru Impreza and Subaru's fifth win on the Acropolis Rally of Greece.
SS17: 0801 Dikastro 1 (26.78km)
Undeterred by a 30-second time penalty collected at the end of Leg two for leaving service without sufficient mud-flaps, Subaru's Petter Solberg continued his lightening-quick pace and stormed through SS17 to extend his overall lead by 1.6 seconds. With Petter 30.1 seconds clear at the finish, all eyes were on the intensifying battle for second. Citroen's Sebastien Loeb was on a charge and took the stage win to reduce the overall gap between himself and second-placed Harri Rovanpera to 3.5 seconds. Another potential podium contender, Francois Duval was fourth fastest. Having climbed as high as second in Leg two, the Belgian was under team orders to finish following his team-mate Markko Martin's retirement in Leg one. Marcus Gronholm rolled in his Peugeot 307, but as he was no longer eligible to score Championship points following his retirement in Leg two, there was no change to the overall standings. After completing the 26km stage, which took crews through a twisty uphill section littered with hairpins and across some exceptionally bumpy terrain, crews moved to the start of SS18.=20
SS18: 0900 Agios Stefanos 1 (13.47km)
Solberg was fastest through the narrow, technical stage from Agios Stefanos by 2.2 seconds to take his ninth win of the event and extend his overall lead. As the tight battle for second continued, this time it was Rovanpera who had the edge as Loeb, who was competing on the stage for the first time of his career, lost concentration when he swerved to avoid a large stone near to the start. The Finn was second fastest, 0.9 seconds quicker than his French rival. There was no change to the overall top ten and after the finish, crews moved to the start of SS19.
SS19: 0938 Styrfaka 1 (9km)
It was tight at the top as the battle for second spurred Loeb to go fastest through the new, short test. Clawing back time, the Frenchman capitalised on the fact the stage was new to all competitors and moved to within a second of Rovanpera's overall second position. At the finish, and after 278.63km, the pair was separated by just 0.3 seconds and with three more stages to run, the contest looked set to go right to the wire. Solberg continued his strategic drive at the wheel of his Impreza and was third fastest to remain over a half a minute clear of the rest of the field. After the finish, crews returned to the service park in Lamia.=20
SS20: 1214 Dikastro 2 (26.78km)
At 26.78km, the second pass through Dikastro included more than half of the remaining competitive distance and was a good opportunity for Loeb to snatch more time from Rovanpera. Negotiating the stage's repeated twisty uphill section and its numerous hairpins, he did just that and was fastest to take both the win, his fifth of the event, and overall second from his Finnish rival by 6.6 seconds. Solberg was second fastest to maintain the overall lead, while Rovanpera was third. There were problems for Mitsubishi's Panizzi when he was slowed by an engine problem. Although able to complete the stage, he lost over three minutes and fell to seventh place overall. After the finish, crews moved the start of the penultimate stage, SS21.=20
SS21: 1313 Agios Stefanos 2 (13.47km)
As the tension mounted, Rovanpera and Loeb were neck and neck through the repeated Agios Stefanos test and completed the 13km stretch within a second of one another. Rovanpera clinched the win, but with Loeb just 0.4 seconds slower, it wasn't enough to snatch back second and he remained in third position overall. Solberg was third fastest to maintain a comfortable lead, while Sainz was fifth fastest. Panizzi continued to lose time due to his engine problem and by the end of the stage had slipped another two places down the overall leaderboard to ninth.=20
SS22: 1351 Styrfaka 2 (9km)
Petter Solberg didn't miss a beat on the final, short test of the day and having retained his lead throughout the day was third fastest to take the seventh victory of his WRC career. Winning by an overall margin of 18.4 seconds, the Norwegian crossed the line to score a maximum ten points. His performance moved him up to second place in the Driver's Championship, five points off the overall top spot. Sebastien Loeb was fastest through the stage to finish second overall, while Harri Rovanpera was third.=20
It's fantastic, very, very good indeed! It's been a hard rally, and a tough fight, right from the start, but to get this result after the disappointment we had in Cyprus feels very good. You know it's hard work to keep adjusting the pace to keep position, but the team kept the split times coming in and everything worked perfectly today - there were no problems at all. The penalty didn't really affect me much, last night when I heard the decision I have to say I was a bit fed up, but when I woke up this morning I just laughed, it just seemed like a joke. I must say that the car is incredible, and the tyres, the mechanics, everyone in the team is working so well I can't thank them enough and it seems that for now anything is possible.
David Lapworth, Team Principal
It's a fantastic and very satisfying result for Petter, Pirelli and all of us in the team. He's controlled the situation all weekend, and even when a few obstacles got in the way he never faltered. Mikko too should be encouraged by his performance. Without the unfortunate accident yesterday, I think he could have finished in the top six and it's only a matter of time before he's looking for a podium result. As far as the championship is concerned things are looking good, and after our strong performances on the last few gravel events we are really looking forward to the next round in Turkey.
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
Just one type of tyre - the XR - was used to win an unpredictable Acropolis rally, which contains conditions which vary from hard rock to mud. I think this is enough to show the superiority of the P-Zero XR tyres, which have become part of the history of the World Championship's toughest rally.