Petter Solberg has always been all about going ‘flat out’, and that was his plan from the start of the classic car breaking event on day 1. After taking the first 4 stages of the day, the man dubbed as ‘Mr. Hollywood’ had a lead of 28.6 seconds. His words at the end of the stage were “I’m here to fight. I’m not playing games with starting positions. I go, I go, I go!”
Sebastien Loeb had a few issues with his on-board computer, but his mechanics were able to reboot the system at remote service. Jari Matti wasn’t feeling comfortable, and said that he wasn’t driving very clean, but despite this he was in 2nd. His team mate Hirvonen was sitting in 3rd, although he lost time due to a puncture on the rough stages.
It wasn’t until Stage 5 when Solberg’s Rally Greece stranglehold was broken. And it was by none other than Sebastien Ogier who claimed the stage win. And along with made up 2 places to grab 3rd, as Hirvonen dropped a place.
But it was Stage 6, the final stage of the day where all the action happened .After Loeb and Hirvonen seemed to struggle a little being first on the rock stages, tactics played its part as the crews further down wanted the best road position for tomorrow (day 2). Loeb first through, and drove at good pace, planing on pushing to gain time on Solberg rather than playing the slow game, “We are second on the road and very far behind from Petter in front. Ogier and Hirvonen are doing tactics I think.” Loeb grabbed his first stage win of the weekend to finish day1 in 2nd. Next to reach the stage end was Fords Mikko Hirvonen, and was uncharacteristically curt, was he asked to slow down by the team to play the tactic game? When asked by stage end reporter Julian Porter if he had slowed? all the Fin had to say was, “Well he’s in front” indeed Loeb was in front, but only by 3.7 seconds. Ogier also slowed and came to a complete stop, dropped 16.3 seconds to go behind Loeb and Hirvonen. “I hope it’s ok” he said at stage end. Latvala was one of the big runners to hit trouble, with a front Differential problem, the Ford man only had rear wheel drive for the final stage, and had to stop to let Solberg past. He made it to the stage end but dropped right down to 8th, almost 4 minutes off the lead.
Petter Solberg, the man who was on form and flat out pace all day long kept it that way. The Privateer ended the day with a massive lead of 51 seconds. When he reached the stage end he seemed a little deflated after being held up by Latvala towards the end of the stage, “I was driving a long, long time behind him (Latvala) and it cost me time.” But when told about the size of his lead, his reaction soon changed, albeit slightly confused as to why the others slowed down and made the gap to the lead position bigger.
Solberg will be first on the road tomorrow, how much of an effect will the road sweeping have?Can the cars with stand the tough, hard and rough stages of the acropolis? Was it a mistake to drop time to play tactics? Thats something we can only answer when the crews reach the finish. Anything can happen in the world of rallying and probably will…
Click here for Rally Greece official Overal Results.