It is no wonder why the teams participating in the Acropolis Rally wait until they have reached the podium before saying that the fight is over. This was also the case for this year's rally since dramatic changes came up during the last day.
Petter Solberg, with his factory Ford Fiesta WRC, was the first to witness the toughness of the Acropolis Rally. The Norwegian 2003 World Champion has started Section 4 with only 10 sec behind Sebastien Loeb and tried to catch him from the first special stage. Unfortunately, in his effort to push, Solberg made a mistake which caused him a damaged Fiesta and a consecutive abandon, leaving Sebastien Loeb alone in the lead of the overall classification and with more than a minute time gap from his competitors.
But, the "Greek God of the Rally" had not said his last word: the French eight times Champion had a puncture! Loeb, instead of heading to the finish, decided to stop and change the tire, something that caused him to loose a lot of seconds, although always in the lead. Thus, by keeping a steady pace he managed to get the 71st win of his career, the 4th in six rallies during this year, and the 2nd in a raw after the Rally Argentina.
The exit of Petter Solberg resulted in Mikko Hirvonen taking the second position, with Citroen team getting its second consecutive 1-2. Jari Matti Latvala, who lost lots of valuable time yesterday, had no reason to push -especially after the abandon of Petter Solberg- and basically drove safely up to the 3rd place of the Overall Classification.
In the remaining positions, all drivers who managed to finish the rally preferred to drive safely in order to finally climb on the podium of the Hotel Casino Club Loutraki. As already mentioned, quite a lot of drivers faced the negative consequences of the tough Acropolis Rally, even just before the finish line. Evgeny Novikov is a typical example of those who started Section 4 but abandoned in the first special stage due to a cooling system failure in his Fiesta.
Then, it was Nasser Al Attiyah who exits the battle after the damaged radiator of his DS3 WRC. During the same special stage, the Brazilian Daniel Oliveira also abandoned due to an irreversible engine failure of his Ford Fiesta WRC. Last, but not least, VW Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen, abandoned due to a broken suspension.
No surprise, thus, that all teams who managed to finish were more than satisfied, with Mads Ostberg following a steady pace and taking the 4th overall position, after having dealt with the problems of the first day of the rally. Martin Prokop finished 5th while Thierry Neuville, Sebastien Ogier and Yazzed Al Rajhi, completed the first 8 positions of the Overall Classification.
Unexpected things happened also in the PWRC. The Peruvian, Nicolas Fuchs, who was in the lead, had a puncture in the second passage of "Aghii Theodoroi" special stage. He decided to continue without changing the tire, causing a complete destruction of the rear suspension of his Subaru Impreza WRX STi and his consecutive abandon after the finish of the special stage. This resulted in Valeriy Gorban (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X) achieving his first win for this year and climbing to the first position. From that point on, the majority of the crews were being careful in order to avoid any trouble and possible changes in the classification, with Aksa (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X) and Ricardo Trivino (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) maintaining their yesterday positions.
Photos in high resolution can be downloaded by the official 58th Acropolis Rally site www.acropolisrally.gr