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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Next: Round 6 WRC Acropolis (Greece) 24 - 27 May



Searing ambient temperatures, rocky, undulating roads and dust combine to make the Acropolis Rally one of the most taxing on the World Rally Championship calendar with car and driver subjected to a particularly stern test.

Greece returned to the WRC schedule in 2011 after missing out in 2010 when its absence was keenly felt, not just by the fans that descend on the event in great number, but also by the drivers. The Acropolis is one of the most iconic events in the sport and winning it earns significant kudos.

Official Website: acropolisrally.gr/EN/

Listen Live: worldrallyradio.com/


Watch Speed TV(USA): speedtv.com//filter/program/wrc


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Discussion Starter #2
WRC Academy preview: Acropolis Rally



The FIA WRC Academy crews are back in action in Greece this week less than two months since Alastair Fisher swept to victory on the season-opener in Portugal.

A new addition to the WRC Academy schedule for 2012, the Acropolis Rally is set to provide the sport’s rising stars with their toughest test yet thanks to the punishing nature of the rock-strewn stages and the searing heat they’ll encounter.

Unlike their more senior counterparts, the WRC Academy competitors are due to finish their event in Loutraki on Saturday afternoon following 13 stages of intense competition in their identical Ford Fiesta R2s, prepared by the British preparation firm M-Sport and using Pirelli control tyres.

As in Portugal, the onus will be placed firmly on blending speed with a degree of caution and mechanical sympathy over the rough gravel tracks. Fortunately, all Fiestas competing in Greece have been subjected to additional strengthening measures to cope with the tough terrain.

Eleven drivers will be chasing WRC Academy glory in Greece headed by title leader Fisher, from Northern Ireland, and bolstered by South African newcomer Ashley Haigh-Smith, who is eligible for series points for the first time this week on his first appearance of 2012.

Brendan Reeves, second in the standings after the opening round, teams up with co-driving sister Rhianon Smyth for a 50th time in Greece. Like Reeves, Pontus Tidemand, who claimed Rookie honours in third overall in Portugal, will be expected to run at the front in Greece, as will Dutch driver Timo van der Marel.

Spaniard Jose Suarez will be hoping an outing on a gravel rally in France will boost his chances, while Elfyn Evans arrives in Greece on a high following recent success in the British Rally Championship. Evans will link up with new co-driver Phil Pugh, who possesses vast experience of competing in the World Rally Championship. Portugal’s Joao Silva also has a new co-driver after joining forces with countryman Hugo Magalhaes.

American Chris Duplessis (pictured) and Scot John MacCrone will be hoping for improved fortune on the Acropolis Rally after they both hit trouble in Portugal.

click: wrc.com/news/wrc-academy-preview

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PWRC preview: Acropolis Rally



Benito Guerra will be looking to make the most of team-mate Michal Kosciuszko's absence when the Production Car World Rally Championship resumes on the Acropolis Rally this week.

Kosciuszko, from Poland, hasn’t nominated the Greek event as one of his six scoring rounds and is set to fall further behind Guerra in the title race providing the Mexican can continue his impressive start to his PWRC campaign on the Loutraki-based round.

However, Guerra, who has claimed two wins from two starts this season, has never competed in Greece before and admits he and co-driver Borja Rozada are facing a tough challenge.

“We have the maximum points at this moment; I have only raced two rallies, and [have] two victories,” said Guerra. “Greece is going to be as tough as Argentina. I don’t know the strategy because this is my first time in the rally. You should know that we are going to fight for the win in Greece. I think that’s the way you fight for the championship. If you could fight, if you could go faster, if you have to preserve your car, you have to preserve your car. You have to try to get all the points you can from each event.”

Guerra will face stiff opposition in his quest for points in Greece from several star drivers, including Nicolas Fuchs, Valeriy Gorban and Marcos Ligato. Fuchs, currently third in the drivers’ standings, has boosted his bid by signing for Symtech Racing to drive a Subaru Impreza. Symtech guided Hayden Paddon to the PWRC crown last season. Gorban and Ligato both impressed on the last round in Argentina.

Lorenzo Bertelli will be hoping to cover more ground in Greece having suffered numerous issues on his previous appearances in Monte-Carlo and Argentina this year, while Ricardo Trivino and Oleksii Kikireshko will be hoping for better fortune after retiring in South America.

Subhan Aksa, from Indonesia, has recruited new co-driver Jeff Judd for his second PWRC appearance of 2012. Veteran Italian Gianluca Linari has been a consistent scorer this season. British lady driver Louise Cook is back in action after making her PWRC debut on Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.

click: wrc.com/pwrc/news/pwrc-preview

. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Solberg tops Qualifying Stage

Petter Solberg has set the fastest time on the Qualifying Stage to earn the right to select his starting position first for the opening day of the Acropolis Rally.

Driving a Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg and co-driver Chris Patterson completed the 6.20-kilometre test near Loutraki in a time of 4m11.976s.

“It’s good to be first, very important in fact,” said Solberg. “The car works well and we should be strong for this rally. I feel confident and think I will start further down [the order]. Even when it’s raining it dries very quick when it stops. The best choice is to start further back for sure.”

Solberg’s Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, back in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia following his recovery from a broken collarbone, took 4m12.074s to complete the test.

“There was one corner when I thought I was in first but I was in second and I pulled third by mistake,” said Latvala, who was second fastest. “The engine died just a tiny bit on the uphill but I quickly got it back. We only lost a couple of tenths but after a long time out of the car this was a good boost.”

Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb was third fastest with a best time of 4m12.702s with M-Sport Fiesta driver Evgeny Novikov fourth quickest in 4m13.018s. Mikko Hirvonen was next up in the second factory Citroen after a half-spin with Thierry Neuville sixth quickest in his Citroen Junior entry.

click: wrc.com/news/qualifying

Acropolis Rally: Qualifying stage:

1. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 4mins 11.976s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +0.098secs M
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +0.726secs M
4. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.042s M
5. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +2.081s M
6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +4.296s M
7. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +5.340s
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +6.791s M
9. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6.903s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +7.188sM
11. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +14.894s M
12. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +16.031s
13. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +38.161s

all times unofficial

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Ford aces select lowly start positions

Ford World Rally Team drivers Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala have selected lowly starting positions for the opening day of the Acropolis Rally, round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

Solberg was permitted to select his starting position first after going quickest on the Qualifying Stage this morning. In front of a large crowd of fans gathered in the service park in Loutraki, the Norwegian opted to run 13th on the road to benefit from what he considers to be the most advantageous running position due to the road-cleaning effect, which is a common factor on gravel events.

“It’s the best position for the cleaning and if it is raining then it will dry very quickly,” said Solberg, who is hoping for better grip and braking precision running further down the order in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “We’re on top form, the team is on top form and the car is on top form. I think this can be my rally now.”

Eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb starts 11th for the Citroen Total World Rally Team, one place behind Russian star Evgeny Novikov.

Paulo Nobre will run at the head of the field for WRC Team MINI Portugal. The Brazilian was the last driver to select his starting position after posting the slowest time in the Qualifying Stage.

The full start position selection is as follows:

1: Paulo Nobre (MINI John Cooper Works WRC)

2: Armindo Araujo (MINI John Cooper Works WRC)

3: Daniel Oliveira (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

4: Nasser Al-Attiyah (Citroen DS3 WRC)

5: Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

6: Ott Tanak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

7: Mads Ostberg (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

8: Thierry Neuville (Citroen DS3 WRC)

9: Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen DS3 WRC)

10: Evgeny Novikov (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

11: Sebastien Loeb (Citroen DS3 WRC)

12: Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

13: Petter Solberg (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)

click: wrc.com/news/start-positions


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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thurs Eve

SS1: Latvala flies on WRC comeback


Jari-Matti Latvala has made a sensational return to the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia after going fastest on stage one of the Acropolis Rally, the 25.24-kilometre Kineta test.

The factory Ford driver, who missed the last round in Argentina through injury, edged world champion Sebastien Loeb by 2.8s with Mikko Hirvonen third quickest and Mads Ostberg fourth fastest. “I was very equal with Loeb but at the end I seemed to pull out some time at the hairpins,” said Latvala. “I felt really fast in places.”

Loeb said: “In some places there is a lot of grip, some places no grip so it is difficult to understand where you can push and where you have to be careful.”

It was a frustrating start to the Greek round for former winner Petter Solberg who blamed his failure to win the stage on his decision to run soft compound tyres on his factory Fiesta rather than the hard option chosen by his rivals. The Norwegian’s tyres had lost considerable grip by the end of the run, which he completed with the fifth fastest time, 14.6s slower than Latvala.

“It was my decision and I believed in it,” said Solberg. “I thought it could have been colder, it was just a mistake and I should have listened to the team. Okay that’s how it is and we learn from that. We are not out of it.”

More: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss1




WRC Academy SS1



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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Friday
SS2: Latvala extends his lead




ari-Matti Latvala started the first full day of the Acropolis Rally in encouraging style as he edged slightly further away from the chasing Citroen DS3 WRC of Sebastien Loeb.

Ford driver Latvala won the Aghia Marina stage by a scant 0.4s over Loeb, bringing his overall advantage up to 3.2s.

Latvala denied that he was driving to Loeb's splits, and reckoned they were just naturally evenly-matched this morning.

"It seems that it's quite equal," he noted.

Loeb's team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was 3.3s slower than Latvala but remains third.

In the second Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, Petter Solberg moved up from fifth to fourth, but was concerned by a handling problem.

"Something is not right, the car is very, very difficult to drive. Something is not correct," said the Norwegian. "I have to think what it is. It's not in balance at all. The car is strange in right-handers. There's a big difference between right and left corners."

Solberg still moved past Mads Ostberg, as did Evgeny Novikov, with Ostberg unhappy with his Adapta Ford and sliding from fourth to sixth.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss2




WRC Academy SS2:



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SS3: Nothing to choose

The extremely close action continued at the front of the Acropolis Rally field on Thiva, as Jari-Matti Latvala, Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg set times just 0.2s apart despite light rain making the latter part of the 23.6-kilometre stage increasingly tricky.

Ford World Rally Team driver Latvala was the stage winner, beating Citroen DS3 WRC man Loeb by a tenth of a second to take his rally lead up to 3.3s.

"At the end, the last two kilometres, it's been maybe raining at some point so it's a bit slippery and muddy in some corners, so it was a little bit scary, but we're okay," said Latvala.

The Finn's team-mate Solberg was back on the pace and his time 0.2s off Latvala brought him up to within 3.2s of third-placed Mikko Hirvonen in the second factory Citroen. But despite his speed, Solberg remained disconcerted by his car's handling.

"It's not very good to drive, it's really difficult to keep it perfect into right hand corners. Left hand corners, I'm okay. I'm trying my best," he said.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss3




WRC Academy SS3:



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SS4: Loeb takes lead, Solberg flies



Sebastien Loeb took the Acropolis Rally lead on stage four, Elikonas, while a storming stage win for Petter Solberg brought the Ford driver up to third, just 4.5s off first place.

Muddy conditions caused a major shake-up on the stage, with Loeb unhappy with his performance, and Jari-Matti Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak all sliding off the road briefly at the same junction.

Latvala's excursion meant he fell to second place, 1.2s behind new leader Loeb.

"The splits were looking really, really, really good, I think we were ahead of Loeb," said Latvala. "But before one junction, the corner before was really, really muddy. I locked the front wheels and the engine stopped. I couldn't turn into the corner, so I did a little overshoot. I lost maybe five to 10 seconds."

Loeb will have been surprised to learn that he was now leading, for he had been thoroughly unimpressed with his performance as he reached the stage finish.

"I don't know why I was slow in this stage, I was pushing hard," Loeb mused. "I don't know. A bad rhythm maybe."

His pessimism was not misplaced, for Loeb set an equal time to Citroen team-mate Hirvonen despite the Finn overshooting the tricky junction, and was 9.7s slower than dominant stage winner Solberg.

Given his handling issues so far this morning, Ford driver Solberg was thrilled by his surge in pace, which brought him to within 4.5s of leader Loeb.

"It was very muddy in there and the car worked very well in the mud," said Solberg. "Not a bad time. I'm very happy with that. I'm looking forward to getting the car even better in service."

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss4




WRC Academy SS4:



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SS5: Citroens set the pace

Citroen set first and second fastest times on the first run through the Acropolis Rally's Bauxites stage, as Sebastien Loeb pulled away in the lead and Mikko Hirvonen moved right back into the podium fight.

While the Ford World Rally Team chose to take two spare tyres in Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg's cars, Citroen went for just one, and saw its drivers go five seconds quicker than their arch-rivals.

It was Hirvonen who claimed the stage win by 1.1s, closing his gap to third-placed Solberg to just 1.2s.

Loeb was able to extend his lead over Latvala to 5.7s, with the Finn feeling a set-up change may be necessary.

"I'm not happy with the car on the hard surface," said Latvala. "I feel like I can't get the grip in the first part of the stages. We need to change the set-up to make the tyres warm up."

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss5




WRC Academy SS5:



.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
your welcome ...always good to follow chris...just wish he was closer to Elfyn (Evans)

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SS6: Rock scare for Solberg

Petter Solberg is concerned that he may have damaged his Ford Fiesta RS WRC on stage six of the Acropolis Rally, which saw Sebastien Loeb pull further away in the lead.

While Loeb took his first stage win of the weekend for Citroen and stretched his overall lead to 10.1 seconds, Solberg fell from third to fourth following an impact with a rock. The incident cost him eight seconds and caused a punture, but the Norwegian was more concerned about potential propshaft damage.

"I haven't gone wide or anything, but over a crest was a rock," said Solberg. "I don't know what's happened. It hit in the middle of the car."

It was a tough stage for Ford, with Solberg's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala dropping a further 4.4s to Loeb in their battle for victory.

"When it's muddy and soft, I don't like the car," said Latvala. "Somehow the set-up is not quite right now."

Like most of the field, Loeb was running hard tyres for the Drossohori stage, and felt that the level of mud in places was tough for his choice of rubber.

"It's really tricky, very muddy and we have a hard tyre, so the grip is not extremely good," said Loeb. "But I did a good stage, no mistakes in those muddy places."

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss6





WRC Academy SS6:


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Friday midday wrap:



Sebastien Loeb began to assert his authority over the 2012 Acropolis Rally through the first half of the opening full day in Greece.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala had held the advantage over his Citroen rival during the early part of the morning, with the Finn showing no ill effects from his recent injury as he took two narrow stage wins and managed to pull slightly clear of Loeb, leading by 3.3 seconds after stage three.

Then things started to go awry for Latvala. First a minor off-road excursion in a slippery braking area on stage four cost him a handful of seconds and gave Loeb the rally lead, then on the two stages after remote service Latvala found his set-up was not to his liking, struggling at times with tyres not warming up on the harder parts of the surface. By the time the cars returned to service, the gap between Loeb and Latvala was up to 10.1s.

It was also an up-and-down morning for Latvala's team-mate Petter Solberg. Initially the Norwegian struggled with handling issues on right-hand bends, but when the road became more muddy on stage four, he flew to a dominant stage win and found himself up to third and within four seconds of the rally lead.

Solberg started slipping back again after service, though, and then an impact with a rock after a crest on the sixth stage kicked the Ford Fiesta RS WRC into the air and left Solberg concerned about potential damage to the propshaft or driveshaft. He also dropped behind Mikko Hirvonen and into fourth place.

Evgeny Novikov (M-Sport Ford) is resisting Adapta Ford's Mads Ostberg for fifth, with the latter unhappy with his driving so far today.

click more: wrc.com/news/friday-midday-wrap


.:)
 

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Scary to think how fast some of those guys are putting up minutes on duplessis with the exact same car. Although he's probably driving cautious after the last wrca event.
 

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Interesting that this is a very tight and technical event and we really do not have any of those in the US, Chris in no doubt fast, but this might be an area of opportunity. Happy to see him compete and want to see him finish, so no concern about the pace.
 

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We don't have nearly as much tight or technical stuff that what usually gets picked for WRC Stages. We do have Some though.. just from events I've been to, Mendocino is very very Twisty (mostly 3Ls and 3Rs and 1 straight away) one of the Idaho Rally stages is super twisty and for 3/4 its also tight (1 lane wide) ..

But ya its a bit disheartening to see Chris that far off the pace. His competitors have more experience making Notes, and some of them have probably run some of the stages used before. (IMO) I don't think that those factors are really the reason for the pace difference. While i think all of those are factors, i think also Chris did A LOT of US rallies with out having a competitor in the same car, who was faster than him. Its easier to improve when there's someone in a "close enough" to the same car, beating you. but when you are beating everyone in a similar car (and many in 'on paper faster' cars) its going to be harder to improve...

Hopefully Chris can stay over in in the WRC Academy for the entire season, i'm sure he'll just get faster and faster at every event.. (scary) hehehe
 

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I heard Chris interviewed on WRC Radio this morning...Company line is he's saving the car and not disappointed with his times....and he's GOT to finish one of these...in 8th now....3 more spots is not out of the question and top 5 would work fine I'd think.....
 

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SPEED will have 1 hour show on the rally at 1AM & 2:30PM Monday.
 

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Hell Yeah, already set my DVR to record it .. last time though my stupid dvr did not record. ( i set it to record before the name flipped over to 'auto racing' meh ... damn fancy recording thingies)

:) It slipped my mind that Chris has had 2 DNFs, or rather had to super rally twice, and is probably backing down his pace on purpose to make sure he finishes and maximizes his seat time.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
just a fyi folks the wrc academy did not run the repeat stages in the afternoon , hence no stage times posted as they are all the same for 7,8 & 9.

i was hoping that chris would be at least mid pack or up there chasing elfyn evans (first wrc academy season), not saying chris isnt trying.. just does seem to be off the pace compared too elfyn and alistair fisher.

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SS7: Drama for M-Sport duo

M-Sport Ford drivers Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak both lost ground on stage seven of the Acropolis Rally, as Ford World Rally Team man Jari-Matti Latvala trimmed a little out of Sebastien Loeb's overall lead.

Tanak's delay was the most costly, as he went off the road and damaged his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Estonian had been running seventh, but lost over eight minutes in the incident.

"We made a correction on the pacenotes durng the previous [running of the stage] and we made it to the wrong place, the corner before, and we were too fast," Tanak confessed. "We went off and came back on, but we got a puncture, and then bent the suspension."

Novikov dropped just over a minute with a mechanical issue, dropping from fifth to seventh, behind Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) and Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior).

"We had a problem with the engine. It's not a misfire, maybe something with the turbo, I don't know," said Novikov.

Up front, Latvala took the stage win by 0.7s from Loeb, bringing the gap to the Citroen down to 9.4s.

"Okay, there is quite a distance to Loeb, but now we are going in the right way," said Latvala, who was happier with his car's behaviour after changes at service.

Loeb had finished the stage close behind the delayed Novikov and Tanak, but said it had not cost him any time.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss7



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SS8: Solberg reclaims third



Petter Solberg reclaimed third place from Mikko Hirvonen on stage eight of the Acropolis Rally.

Firmly back on the pace after his stage six scare, Solberg was quickest on the repeat of the Elikonas stage, and his pace coupled with a disappointing time for his Citroen rival saw the Ford not just take third place overall, but pull nearly eight seconds clear of Hirvonen, who has not been happy with his car's handling this afternoon.

But although Ford could celebrate reclaiming third, the advantage remains with Citroen in the outright lead battle.

Jari-Matti Latvala had trimmed a few fractions from Sebastien Loeb's lead on the preceding stage and looked like he was set to make greater inroads on Elikonas, only for Loeb to respond with a charge through the final kilometres after the split times alerted him to Latvala's progress.

"I was pushing hard. I saw Petter and Jari-Matti taking a bit of time, so I pushed really, really hard at the end of the stage. If I could do more, I'd do more. It's flat-out," Loeb declared.

Latvala ended up dropping 0.8s to Loeb, to his frustration.

"I thought I was driving well, but I'm a bit disappointed," he said.

Behind the leaders, there were myriad dramas in the rest of the World Rally car field.

Fifth-placed Mads Ostberg is nursing a driveshaft he feels is on the brink of failing in his Adapta Ford, while sixth position man Thierry Neuville said his Citroen Junior-entered DS3 WRC was also developing a transmission issue near the end of the stage.

Evgeny Novikov managed to fix the turbo issue on his M-Sport Ford before the stage, only for a loose gear selector to cause further time loss on stage eight. The Russian's team-mate Ott Tanak had to retire on the road section due to the damage his car sustained on the previous stage.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss8




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SS9: Latvala keeps Loeb on his toes



Jari-Matti Latvala reduced Sebastien Loeb's Acropolis Rally lead to 6.5s at the end of Friday's action in Greece.

The Ford man's stage win on the second run through Thiva saw him beat Loeb by 3.7s, as the Citroen driver struggled slightly with visibility as numerous delayed cars ahead kicked up dust.

Latvala's team-mate Petter Solberg also took time out of Loeb on Thiva, and heads for the overnight break 18.7s off the lead.

In the second Citroen, fourth-placed Mikko Hirvonen lost time with a puncture - which he suspected was a result of some excursions while blinded by dust.

"There was so much dust, I missed a corner completely and went wide. We went off a couple of times, just wide and hitting banks," he said. "Maybe one of those caused the puncture."

The dust ahead was largely created by Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville, both of whom had issues on the stage. Ostberg went off the road, losing around three minutes, while Neuville struggled with a broken driveshaft and dropped five minutes as he grappled with a new rear-wheel-drive-only Citroen DS3 WRC.

Ostberg was frustrated both with himself and with the spectators he had hoped would help get his Adapta Ford back on the road.

"I was understeering quite a lot and still I tried to push," said Ostberg. "We were not far off the road, not a bad place at all, but we just got stuck and it took quite a lot of time to get people to help us. They were more interested in taking pictures."

Ostberg and Neuville's issues mean Evgeny Novikov (M-Sport Ford) and Martin Prokop (Czech Ford) move into the top six.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss9




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Discussion Starter #17
Friday wrap:



Sebastien Loeb will start day two of the Acropolis Rally in Greece leading Jari-Matti Latvala by a margin of 6.5s following a close battle for glory on round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

Citroen ace Loeb started Friday’s punishing route of eight stages around the Gulf of Corinth early this morning trailing overnight leader Jari-Matti Latvala by 2.8s. After initially struggling to peg back his rival - the Ford driver was quickest on stages two and three - Loeb arrived at the first remote service halt in Itea in the lead after an overshoot on stage four cost Latvala precious seconds.

With Latvala struggling for grip through the damp stages five and six, Loeb was able to grow his overall advantage to 10.1s by the time the crews returned to Itea this afternoon. Although Latvala went fastest on stage seven, Loeb appeared to be controlling his lead only to drop time on stage nine in dust clouds created by several drivers running ahead of him on the road suffering problems.

“We are leading so that’s the most important thing,” said the eight-time world champion. “The feeling was okay, I’ve done no mistake until the last one where there was a lot of dust and I did a few mistakes at the end. Apart from the last one we had a good day.”

Latvala, whose opening stage win on Thursday evening was six weeks to the day since he broke his left collarbone falling while cross-country skiing, reported only a small amount of discomfort from his injury, which has still yet to completely heal.

“It’s been a reasonable good day,” said the Finn. “I was not doing so well on stages five and six but I had a good fight in the afternoon trying to catch Loeb. I am fighting but it’s only tenths of a second I’m gaining.”

Petter Solberg completes the provisional podium in his Fiesta after a scare on stage six, the uphill Drossohori test, when his car suffered a heavy impact in a compression and sustained bent rear suspension. “It was a huge shock,” said the Norwegian. “We broke the left-wheel rim and got a puncture. I thought it might be over but we were okay. Tomorrow is a long day and anything can still happen.”

click more: wrc.com/news/wrc friday-wrap


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Friday WRC Academy wrap:



Briton Elfyn Evans is braced for a tough final day in the FIA WRC Academy section of the Acropolis Rally as he bids to claim a maiden victory in the young driver-training class for identical Ford Fiesta R2s.

Evans, who is being co-driven in Greece by the experienced Phil Pugh, holds an advantage of almost 30s over current championship leader Alastair Fisher following Friday’s action, but insists he won’t be taking anything for granted over the final four stages on Saturday.

“We have a really good rhythm,” said Welsh ace Evans. “We are pushing hard but not doing anything silly. We had a few niggling problems but thankfully nothing major. Tomorrow will be difficult as the roads are rougher.”

Fisher, the winner of the opening round in Portugal, said before the start that he wouldn’t take any unnecessary risks in his pursuit of a top score on the Loutraki-based round. “We have been consistent on every stage so I am happy with that,” said the Northern Irishman.

Pontus Tidemand, from Sweden, is third following a cautious drive with Brendan Reeves fourth following set-up changes to his Fiesta after the Australian reported the rear of the car was sliding too much.

John MacCrone is sixth overnight after a puncture on stage four dropped him behind Spaniard Jose Suarez. Joao Silva, from Portugal, is seventh with American Chris Duplessis in eighth spot. South Africa’s Ashley Haigh-Smith, who is making his first start of the season in the WRC Academy, holds ninth place having spent the day improving his car’s set-up and his own pace notes.

click more: wrc.com/news/friday-wrc-academy-wrap

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Friday PWRC wrap:



Nicolas Fuchs leads the Production Car World Rally Championship classification following a day of high drama on the Acropolis Rally.

The multiple Peruvian champion, who is competing in a Symtech Racing Subaru Impreza for the first time, heads Subhan Aksa, from Indonesia, by more than three minutes starting day two, despite a fright on Friday’s final test.

“The engine temperature went up in stage eight and I was a bit worried but my engineers told me this was normal for the Subaru, which I did not realise because it’s my first time in the car,” said Fuchs. “Then on stage nine I went off the road because of the low sun and dust meant I couldn’t see. I had to reverse to get going again but I am here although I know tomorrow is another long day.”

While Fuchs celebrated a strong opening day, title leader Benito Guerra and category frontrunner Valeriy Gorban are among several drivers who have been left to reflect on what might have been following a tough day on the stages around the Gulf of Corinth.

Guerra was challenging for a third consecutive PWRC victory only to tear a wheel off his Mitsubishi Lancer on stage four. The Mexican’s exit left early pacesetter Gorban seemingly in the clear only for the Ukrainian’s bid for a maiden class triumph to suffer a cruel setback when a suspected broken wheel dropped him more than five minutes from the lead fight.

click more: wrc.com/news/friday-pwrc-wrap


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Saturday

SS10: Loeb responds




Citroen Total World Rally Team driver Sebastien Loeb has responded to Jari-Matti Latvala’s threat on the Acropolis Rally, round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, by winning Saturday’s opening test to extend his overall advantage to 7.6s.

Loeb was 1.1s faster than Latvala, in a Ford World Rally Team Fiesta, on the stage where he crashed heavily back in 2009. “I’m extending my lead but only by one second,” said Loeb. “We had a good drive but it’s a very hard stage for the tyres and the second pass will be terrible.”

Latvala said: “I tried as much as I could but some places are rough and you need to be really careful not to go wide as there are lots of rocks around. I try to put pressure on Loeb but he’s the eight-time world champion so it won’t be easy. I’ve made some changes to the car and I feel more confident now.”

Petter Solberg was third fastest in his Fiesta and now falls 20.9s behind Loeb. “It’s so rough in some places so it was no risk as it’s so easy to do a mistake. One rock in the road can destroy your rally so you have to respect that.”

Mikko Hirvonen was fourth quickest in the second factory Citroen DS3 WRC. He said: “The pace was quite okay but it was a careful drive and I didn’t take any risks.”

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss10



WRC Academy SS10:




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SS11: Latvala fastest

Jari-Matti Latvala has won what has been described by one leading co-driver as the “toughest stage” of the Acropolis Rally, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 2.5s faster than Sebastien Loeb to close to within 5.1s of the eight-time world champion in the thrilling battle for victory in Greece.

“It was very, very rough and I had to back off after going really fast at the beginning,” Latvala told WRC Live’s stage-end reporter George Donaldson. “It’s a big risk for the car this stage. You can’t go maximum all the time because the car won’t take it as it’s so bad in some places.”

Loeb, who was fourth fastest in his Citroen DS3 WRC, said: “It was very, very tricky so I took it really easy in the downhill with no risk. We will have to push harder on the next one.”

Mikko Hirvonen was second fastest with Petter Solberg setting the third best time in his Ford. Russian Evgeny Novikov was fifth quickest with Mads Ostberg recording the sixth fastest time to move ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah into seventh overall.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss11




WRC Academy SS11:




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SS12: Latvala cuts Loeb’s lead



Jari-Matti Latvala has slashed Sebastien Loeb’s lead on the Acropolis Rally to one second following a charging run through Saturday’s third stage in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Latvala was 4.1s faster than Loeb, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, as both drivers admitted they were pushing to the maximum as they bid to claim top honours on round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

“It seems Sebastien was doing a new attack so there’s not so much I can do apart from go flat out,” said Latvala. “But I have to think about the car and not take big risks with the rocks.”

Loeb was third fastest on the 18.40-kilometre run. He said: “I’m flat out but there is no chance to go faster. As soon as it’s slippery like in this stage I cannot match the speed of the Ford. I have to continue going flat out, what can we do?”

Petter Solberg, world rally champion in 2003, has strengthened his grip on third place by going 7.9s quicker than closest rival Mikko Hirvonen. “I continue pushing and it’s going well,” said the Norwegian, who said he’d avoided taking any unnecessary risks on Saturday’s first two stages. He was second fastest in his Fiesta.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss12



WRC Academy SS12:



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Discussion Starter #19
SS13: Loeb hits back



Sebastien Loeb has hit back in the battle for victory on the Acropolis Rally, round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, by winning the final stage of Saturday’s opening loop of four runs. As a result he takes a lead of 2.2s to the midday service halt in Loutraki.

Latvala was third fastest, 0.4s slower than Ford team-mate Petter Solberg but, more significantly, 1.2s adrift of Loeb’s stage-winning pace.

Mikko Hirvonen was fourth quickest while Mads Ostberg said efforts to resolve a possible fault with his Adapta Fiesta’s right-rear driveshaft prior to the stage had proved a success.

“We have had some concerns with the car but luckily we have been able to come through,” said the Norwegian, who is just 2.4s behind Martin Prokop in the overall classification.

click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss13



WRC Academy SS13:




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Sat midday wrap:

Sebastien Loeb leads the Acropolis Rally by 2.2s after the first four stages of what is considered to be the toughest day of round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia due to the punishing nature of the rock-strewn all-gravel stages.

Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Loeb started stage 13 just one second ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC but was able to open up a slender advantage heading to the midday service halt in Loutraki after going 1.2s faster than Latvala through the 21.36-kilometre Ziria test, a new addition to the Acropolis route for 2012.

Petter Solberg is third for the factory Ford team with Mikko Hirvonen next up in the second works Citroen. Both drivers have reported being more cautious than their rapid team-mates out in front.

Mads Ostberg has climbed up to sixth in his Adapta Fiesta, despite a driveshaft glitch slowing him down through stage 12. The Norwegian is just 2.4s behind Martin Prokop, who inherited fifth place when Evgeny Novikov failed to start stage 13 with a water pump failure.

click more: wrc.com/news/sat-midday-wrap



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