Well known as one of the toughest races, the Acropolis Rally once again proves its fame right. As its venue has returned to Central Greece after several years, men and machines fight with the demanding Special Stages of Fthiotida and Fokida, trying to combine speed with... survival skills. Top crews of the European and the Greek Championship competed against each other today in 6 Special Stages covering 104.84 km of distance, before the eyes of thousands of spectators.
Day 1 of the SEAJETS 2016 Acropolis Rally included tough battles and changes in the classification. After the first 6 Special Stages, Alexey Lukyanuk and his Ford Fiesta R5 are on top, with just 2 seconds of lead ahead of Ralfs Sirmacis (Skoda Fabia R5). The Russian has faced a series of problems with his car, as his engine failed to perform as expected during the first loop. The 22 year-old Latvian took advantage of his rival’s struggle and took the lead early in the day. Lukyanuk improved his performance as the day went on, and found himself marginally on top of the classification, when a 10 sec. penalty that had been issued on him was withdrawn.
In any case, the battle has still way to go, with a full racing day tomorrow. Defending Champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz was not favored by luck, as he had a roll at the very first Special Stage, which cost him a lot of time. He may have won 3 stages from then on, but he remains more than 14 minutes away from the top, so he cannot hope for a good result in Greece. Kajetanowicz being knocked down, Jaromir Tarabus and Lambros Athanassoulas, both driving a Skoda Fabia R5, have their own battle to fight over a place on the podium.
The Greek driver was 3rd at first, but a spin and the excessive wear of his tyres caused him a lot of time and threw him down to the 4th place, behind the Czech. The time gap between the two rivals is no more than 20 seconds, which leaves all possibilities open for tomorrow, so Athanassoulas is highly likely to go full attack for podium. The 5th and 6th positions are taken by Raul Jeets (Ford Fiesta R5) and Jaroslav Koltun (Skoda Fabia R5), respectively, their time difference being only 2 seconds.
In ERC2, Polish driver Wojciech Chuchala was remarkably fast today and has the lead, despite the problem he encountered with the exhaust system of his Subaru Impreza WRX. Meanwhile, Peter Ranga (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX) is not far behind at all, anticipating a possible mistake of his opponent. In ERC3, Turk Murat Bostanci and his Fiesta R2 took the lead in the end of the last Stage of the day, taking advantage of Lukasz Pieniazek’s retirement; the latter was forced to abandon his effort, when the gearbox of his Opel Adam R2 failed.
Tomorrow is the second and last day of the event, which consists of 6 Special Stages covering a total of 126.68 km. This means that there is still a long way to go and the Acropolis Rally has historically proven that betting so early on the winner is not a wise choice.
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