The drama of the WRC returns to Greece for yet anther edition of the classic Rally Acropolis.
Last time here it was Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier that beat Loeb to victory. But with Ogier out and Mikko in the 2nd Citroen seat, can anyone stop Loeb from winning this time out? Over in the Blue corner of the service park, Ford has their Number 1 driver back after missing Argentina due to injury. But Is Jari-Matti Latvala still regarded as number one, The finn has won one Rally, but failed to finish 3 events in the points and missed anther. Throwing away any real hopes of fighting for the driver’s title already. Its his team mate and 2003 World Champion, Petter Solberg who is in the best position for the title fight. And surly wont be long before Jari’s the one to play back up for the experienced Norwegian.
Petter Solberg is in the best place to fight Loeb. Solberg won here back in 2004. The Norwegian hasn’t won a WRC event in 7 years, and will be desperate for that long-awaited victory. Jari is fast, but will be concentrating on actually getting the end to prove he is still a good driver and will need the confidence back. Solberg will be using all his 12 years of WRC experience and knows it will be a rough rally.
“It’s the roughest round of the season, but we’ll see if it proves to be the toughest. There are many big rocks in Greece and that’s what makes the rally so tricky. I learned a lot about rough road driving when Kenya’s Safari Rally was part of the championship, and that’s useful for Greece. You have to be smart with your driving in this type of event. The rough roads and heat are also hard for the tyres. But Michelin’s tyres have been strong this year so I’m confident they’ll be good here also.”
So aside from the battle of who will win. The conditions of the event will play the biggest part. The roads are rough and looking after the car, and more importantly the tyres, will be a crucial factor to winning this event. To finish first, first you have to finish. Friday will be the biggest battle of survival. With 8 stages on Day 1 with just remote service to repair and make changes.
Any major suspension or steering damage could spell disaster for the crews. The 8 times World Champion Sebastien Loeb explains. “It’s a multi-faceted rally: some stages are on very smooth and quick roads. Others, however, are littered with rocks which are not kind to the suspension. Depending on the heat, tyre management can have a major impact on the outcome of the race.”
“Often, the time set on a single stage isn’t that significant. You need to look at the result for the entire loop before starting to draw any conclusions. Obviously, I’ll be aiming to win. I had the potential to win in 2011 and I am determined to do so this year!”
Rally Acropolis starts on Thursday with a 25km Kineta, after much debate about the original plan to have it as a night stage, the first stage will start earlier in the evening and in the daylight. It will still be a tough start to the event as its the longest stage of the rally. Friday has 8 Stages with only a remote service to keep the crews going over the 169Km’s. A further 8 stages on Day2 with SS distance of 149Km’s and Sunday has 5SS. The 3.97Km Powerstage running in Loutraki, new this year and takes place over the first 3.9kms of the Aghii Theodri stage, so it should be well known to the Drivers by the time they get going for them extra bonus points.
This years Rally has a total distance of 409Km over 22 Special Stages.
All the latest news and Photos will be here on Insiderally.com over the weekend.