Loeb holds lead after Day 1 in the Acropolis

There was a lot of road mileage for the crews, over 530km of it on top of the 169km’s of stage mileage, so a lot of driving for the crews. Meaning that they had a remote service in Itea. so any major damage to the cars, such as suspension ect, could not be fixed, as they can only use the parts carried in the cars. After remote service, the action got underway once again with SS5, the 23.17km Bauxites. to quote Rally Radio’s Colin Clark, Rally Acropolis should be known as the rally of a thousand views, as todays stage took place in a very scenic part of Greece.

Photo:D.Darrall

SS5 was much more slippy than the drivers expected. Nothing too dramatic happened. Mikko gained a second on Loeb.  But Seb still led from Latvala overall, but just over a second separated Mikko Hirvonen in 4th, and 3rd place Petter Solberg. But on the following stage, which was described by drivers as muddy and soft, Solberg was flying on the splits, until the last few kilometers when he had a puncture, despite that he still managed 5th fastest, but dropped the Norwegian 1.8 seconds behind Hirvo. After them two stages it was back to remote service for the crews to freshen up a little, before heading back out for the final 3 stages of the day. It was Loeb who set the fastest time on SS6, it was his first fastest stage time of the weekend so far and extended his lead over Latvala to 10.1

SS7, a re-run of the scenic Bauxites stage was slippy once again. The drama was in the form of Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov. Tanak crashed off the road after a wrongly placed correction made to his notes on the previous run through this morning, Although he got back onto the road, he had to stop to change a puncture. Evgeny Novikov was suffering due to a misfiring engine. Latvala went fastest again to take half a second from loeb and the battle between Petter and Mikko Hirvonen closed up to within a second. Solberg seemingly a little more happy with the car than he was in the first few stages of the day.

And to show that Solberg was happier and more comfortable with his car, he set the quickest time on SS8, the Elikonas stage. swapping places with Hirvonen for the 3rd time today, and managed to go three tenths quicker than Loeb. Fords Jari Matti Latvala seemed deflated at the end of the stage, having gone 0.4 slower than the leader Sebastien Loeb on the 19km stage. At the stop line the Fin said “I’m disappointed with my time, tried hard, but not getting the results for the effort. Maybe im not as quick as i used to be, im not a young boy anymore.” Despite the fin’s disappointment and possible quote of the rally for his young boy comment, he was still in 2nd place overall and only 10.2 of loebs time.

The final stage of the day saw drama for the younger boys in the top 10. Mads, who was still struggling with that engine, had a small off and beached the car. Loosing a lot of time before finally getting the fans to stop taking photos of him, and help push his car back on to the road. Due to his loss of time getting back on the road, this meant that Neuville in the junior Citroen DS3 WRC car, got stuck in his dust, due to very poor visibility, he went off a few times on corners he couldn’t see, resulting in a broken drive shaft.

Photo:d.darrall

Jari matti Latvala was quickest on the final stage and made some time on Leader Loeb. but Its Super seb that leads the way going into tomorrow. Solberg was 3rd fastest, opening up the gap between him and Hirvonen.

Overall times after Day 1 of Rally Acropolis.

1. Loeb

2. Latvala +6.5

3. Solberg +17.7

4. Hirvonen +46.0

5.Novikov +3:54.9

6. Propkop +4:46.9

7. Al-Attiyah +4:56.9

8. Ostberg +5:14.6

9. Ogier +5:27.2

10. Mikkelsen +6:31.0

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