Despite the fact that Leg 1 of the SEAJETS 2015 Acropolis Rally consisted of only two Special Stages, it turned out to be both thrilling and exciting. The weather played a key role in the whole event as the Rally is carried out during autumn and literally brought mud instead of the Acropolis dust. This resulted in quite a surprise for the crews who had to confront demanding surfaces under unusual and tough conditions. Heavy rain prior to the SS1 SEAJETS KINETA-LOUTRAKI forced the officials to cut down its length for roughly 19 km, i.e. from 43.41 to 24.33 km, while the muddy surfaces pushed both crews and cars to their limits. Many drove off the road or were even forced to retire due to the resulting mechanical problems. Conditions were improved significantly later in the evening and crews were able to record much faster times in SS2 and offer quite a spectacle to the crowd.
The big surprise of Leg 1 was the performance of the Greek crew Lambros Athanassoulas –Nikolaos Zakcheos and their Skoda Fabia R5. The Greek driver managed to stay close to his rivals in SS1 and by achieving the fastest stage time in SS2 secured him with the first overall position by the end of the day. The Polish Kajetan Kajetanwicz with his Ford Fiesta R5 had set the fastest time earlier in qualifying stage and SS1, but due to a wrong choice of suspension setup, he was left in the second place overall with a difference of 9.6s. Craig Breen was also left behind in the third position, by only 14.7s from the top, as he did not manage to keep up with Lambros Athanassoulas’s pace.
Alexey Lukyanuk in a Ford Fiesta R5 faced also difficulties due to the bad weather conditions and lost time behind Ioardanis Serderidis in SS1, while he tried to improve his stage time in SS2. Jaromir Tarabus and his Skoda Fabia S2000 finished fifth, after fighting hard against Raul Jeets (Ford Fiesta R5), with only 4,3s time difference after SS2. In ERC-2 Category, David Botka and his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX finished first after making the most out of his advantageous starting position. He is followed by the Lithuanian Dominykas Butvilas with a Subaru Impreza. The 3-time Greek Champion crew Lambros Kirkos-Giorgos Polyzois were extremely unlucky as they had an exit during both free practice and SS1, with the latter causing him more than 20 min loss. Nevertheless, he will keep up trying tomorrow, hoping for the best.
A few hours earlier, the heroes of the ERC and the Hellenic Championship have stepped on the start ramp under the Acropolis, in front of Dionysos-Zonars’ Restaurant, where many spectators defied the bad weather with their presence. As for tomorrow, the crews will compete in seven special stages before finishing in Loutraki. With the four first crews having as close as 30s time gap, SEAJETS Acropolis Rally Leg 2 is expected to be as fascinating as someone would anticipate, especially when a Greek crew is fighting for the win!