WRC 13 Rally Acropolis May 31-June2 talk/results spoiler**
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    Cool WRC 13 Rally Acropolis May 31-June2 talk/results spoiler**

    ----------------------

    Rnd 6 Acropolis Rally May 31- June2




    High 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 crew 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. It has only missed two years since the WRC was first established in 1973 (the other one being a non-WRC rally in 1995) and was a favourite of Colin McRae who won it an amazing five times.

    Following a somewhat nomadic existence in the early part of the new millennium with the base chopping and changing between various locations around the Greek capital Athens, the move to Loutraki for 2009 proved a hit and the town on the east coast of the Gulf of Corinth will continue to host the rally in 2013 on the back of a successful return in 2011.

    Following the Qualifying Stage over a 6.20-kilometre course on Thursday morning (24 May) to decide the running order for day one, crews head east to the capital Athens and the famous Zappion for the ceremonial start, before the event proper begins with a 25-kilometre test run late in the evening.

    Friday’s itinerary consists of eight stages over a demanding 12-hour period. With service during the day restricted to two 15-minute remote halts in Itea, the challenge is further increased due to the limited amount of repair work that can be undertaken.

    Saturday’s route of eight stages takes competitors closer to base in the Peloponnese region and includes the 21-kilometre Ziria stage, which the event organisers describe as “very interesting”.

    Sunday is a slightly more tame affair with five stages including the 3.97-kilometre New Loutraki Power Stage.

    Official Website: acropolisrally.gr/EN/2013/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/




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    Ogier tops Acropolis Qualifying

    Sebastien Ogier 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 Volkswagen Polo R, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia completed the 3.10-kilometre test near Loutraki in a time of 2min 14.5sec.

    Weather conditions for the session were dry and sunny, with a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius and strong winds, gusting to 50kph, in the Service Park.

    “Today was very important and I was very motivated to do this,” said Ogier. “Normally in qualifying I prefer to be safe, because it’s better to be second or third than make a mistake and finish at the bottom.

    “But start position here is going to be very important and I wanted to be first to have first choice [of road position] so I really pushed.

    “The stage was quite rough I hope the rest of the weekend is not going to be as bad as that. There’s quite a strong wind at the moment and everybody hopes that will stay so that there are no problems with the dust tonight.”

    Citroen DS3 WRC driver Dani Sordo was second quickest, 1.1sec slower than Ogier. “The car was feeling fine, so I’m happy with this first test,” he said.

    “I was surprised by Sebastien’s time because it was really, really fast. But okay, it’s a long rally, and if we are in the same position once the rally starts it will be fantastic.”

    Qatar M-Sport driver Evgeny Novikov was third quickest, 1.2sec off Ogier’s time, with Thierry Neuville, also in a Fiesta RS, third, 0.4sec further back.

    Ford Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg rounded off the top five times.

    The WRC crews will select their starting positions at 1215hrs local time.

    Here are the full Qualifying Stage times:

    Sebastien Ogier: 2m14.563s

    Dani Sordo: +1.104

    Evgeny Novikov: +1.263

    Thierry Neuville: +1.688

    Mads Ostberg: +2.030

    Andreas Mikkelsen: +2.415

    Nasser Al-Attiyah: +2.742

    Mikko Hirvonen: +2.770

    Jari-Matti Latvala: +3.414

    Martin Prokop: +4.829

    Khalid Al-Qassimi: +5.749

    click: wrc.com/news/acropolis-qualifying

    ---------------------------------

    Ogier opts for back of the pack

    Acropolis Rally qualifying stage winner Sebastien Ogier has decided to start as far down the order as possible in this evening’s opening leg.

    The Frenchman opted to start last of the 11 top priority drivers to take advantage of what he hopes will be the best road conditions in the rock-strewn hills east of the rally base of Loutraki.

    Ogier’s choice was predictable. The early starters will have the unenviable task of sweeping loose stones from the road surface to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind.

    Tonight’s second stage will be in darkness and Ogier’s only doubt would have been the possibility of dust hanging in the calm evening air, ensuring only the first starter would enjoy a clear run. However, gusts of up to 50kph in the service park suggest dust will not be a problem.

    Ogier was fastest by 1.1sec in qualifying at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R from Dani Sordo’s Citroen DS3 and Evgeny Novikov’s Ford Fiesta RS. They followed Ogier’s strategy and opted to start tenth and ninth respectively.

    All the remaining drivers opted for the lowest slot available, with the exception of Andreas Mikkelsen.

    The Norwegian was sixth fastest in his Polo R, but opted to run third on the road. This allowed Volkswagen colleague Jari-Matti Latvala, who was only ninth fastest after making several mistakes, to start behind him.

    The start order is:

    1. Khalid Al Qassimi
    2. Martin Prokop
    3. Andreas Mikkelsen
    4. Jari-Matti Latvala
    5. Mikko Hirvonen
    6. Nasser Al-Attiyah
    7. Mads Ostberg
    8. Thierry Neuville
    9. Evgeny Novikov
    10. Dani Sordo
    11 Sebastien Ogier

    click: wrc.com/news/ogier-opts-for-back-of-the-pack/


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    SS1: Novikov leads after dramatic opener



    The longest stage of the roughest and toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship offered the potential for all kinds of drama – and so it proved.

    Championship leader Sebastien Ogier retired with technical problems, Mikko Hirvonen dropped nearly six minutes with steering problems and Mads Ostberg lost more than three minutes with a damaged wheel.

    So who escaped the carnage? Evgeny Novikov promised to attack from the start and he didn’t disappoint. The Russian was fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS by 20.6sec from Dani Sordo’s Citroen DS3, with Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R 36.3 adrift.

    Novikov, a man of few words, restricted himself to just ‘impressive’ before adding: “I had to push. It was only the first stage so I still have to go hard.”

    Sordo believed Novikov had struck trouble as, despite a strong wind in the hills east of Loutraki, he encountered hanging dust. The Spaniard admitted that when he heard of his rivals’ issues, he decided not to take any risks and eased his pace.

    Latvala lost time with an overshoot after 3km and then the new hydraulic handbrake system on his Polo R caused the Finn problems. “I went straight on after a crest at a slippery and very difficult place. Then I had a handbrake problem. It was not working and I lost 10 seconds,” he said.

    Thierry Neuville was fourth, 38.3sec from the lead, in a Fiesta RS, despite proclaiming the car was ‘undriveable’. “It was so rough and I couldn’t turn into the hairpins on these settings. It was so slippery and completely different to last year, so I need to think about the next loop,” the Belgian told WRC Live at the finish.

    Andreas Mikkelsen was fifth, despite stalling his Polo R three times at hairpin bends, with Nasser Al-Attiyah sixth, despite hitting the right side of Hirvonen’s car as the Finn’s stricken Citroen DS3 struggled around a tight left corner.

    Ogier stopped after 22km with what his Volkswagen team would only say was a technical issue, but they confirmed he would restart tomorrow under Rally 2 rules.

    Hirvonen’s problems struck in the final seven kilometres, the Finn explaining: “There was no connection between the steering wheel and the steering rack. When I turned the wheel, it was a long time before anything happened. Sometimes I had to stop and reverse.”

    Ostberg appeared to close to tears at the finish. “The wheel fell off,” was all he could say, but the Qatar M-Sport team later explained that the Norwegian hit a kerb and broke a wheel on his Fiesta RS WRC.

    click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss1



    ------------------------------

    SS2




    ------------------------------

    WRC Wrap: Acropolis Day One



    Russian driver Evgeny Novikov is a surprise overnight leader of the Acropolis Rally after a short but dramatic opening day on the Greek round of the World Rally Championship.

    Novikov, who drives for the Qatar M-Sport rally team, brought his Ford Fiesta RS to the overnight parc ferme in Loutraki with a lead of 30.3sec after two rough gravel stages in the countryside west of Athens.

    Citroen DS driver Dani Sordo is second, with Jari-Matti Latvala third, 8.8 seconds further back in a Volkswagen Polo R.

    But the shock retirement of championship leader Sebastien Ogier and huge time loss for WRC front-runners Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg were the main talking points of the day.

    All three hit problems on the opening 47km Kineta – Pissia stage, the longest test of the rally.

    Ogier’s Polo R was stopped by a fuel pressure problem, while Hirvonen lost almost six minutes when the steering on his Citroen DS3 broke 7km before the finish. Ostberg lost a front wheel from his Ford Fiesta RS and dropped more than three minutes when he stopped to fit the spare.

    After the upsets on SS1, the second test - a repeat of the first 26km of the opening stage run in darkness - passed off relatively smoothly. Strong winds prevented any dust-related visibility problems and Novikov extended his rally lead by setting the fastest time.

    “No mistakes and everything is good,” Novikov acknowledged at the finish. “I’m happy to be here – it’s looking good for tomorrow.”

    Read More: wrc.com/news/Fri Wrap

    ------------------------------

    Acropolis WRC 2: Kubica leads after day 1



    Robert Kubica dominated the opening leg in the WRC 2 category to build a 38.2sec lead in his Citroen DS3 RRC, despite visiting a ditch and a spin.

    The Polish F1 star was fastest through the opening 47.70km test from Kineta to Pissia by 20.5sec and won the shorter Kineta test by 13.7sec to return to the rally base in Loutraki clear of Yuriy Protasov and championship leader Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari.

    “We set a good pace in the first stage, perhaps too fast,” said Kubica. “We caught the dust of Fuchs ahead and went off into a ditch but, OK, we got out. It was a shame because we lost 30sec in the dust, but this is part of rallying and part of the lessons we are taking.

    “The second stage in the dark was pretty difficult. We had a spin. I went off the line and didn’t want to take the risk of trying to get back, so I reversed and lost a lot of time,” added Kubica, who lies 10th overall.

    Protasov, driving a Ford Fiesta RRC for the first time, punctured a rear right tyre in SS2 but the Ukrainian is 17.1sec clear of Al-Kuwari’s similar car. The Qatari reported a minor handbrake problem in the opening test.

    Valeriy Gorban lies fourth in a Mini John Cooper Works, a further 12.4sec back, with Subhan Aksa completing the top five in another Fiesta RRC.

    Read More: wrc.com/wrc-2/news/Fri Wrap


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    Argh I lost my previous post!

    I was going to say that if they insist on going in flat out into Kineta they will almost invariably wreck every single thing on the car, it's a tank buster and the organizers put it first because they are sadists. Only Karoutes and the old Tarzan compare as far as savage special stages go.

    When the rallye was longer people knew to mind the car so they don't need a taxi home. Now everyone's running a sprint, so everyone breaks it.

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    Incidentally, a search on BBC's sport site online using the subtle keyword "Acropolis" yields no results whatsoever for this year. Lots of info from past rallies though.

    The English version of the official site isn't brilliant to be honest, but it is OK at least.
    WRX Info Links, Courtesy TheJ
    Man is a brute.... If you're cruel to him, he respects and fears you. If you're kind to him, he plucks your eyes out. Alexis Zorbas
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
    DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are the author's alone and are inherently worthless.

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    As of now Novikov lost an argument with a rock, and he's down to 8th because it was a while before he could get into service. Latvala said he's gone from hunter to hunted basically.

    The Acropolis counts toward the National Champonship as well of course (bring your wallet...). First locals: Psyllos, then Kyrkos at +2,5", and Chalkias over a minute out.

    Meanwhile Sordo wondered why he's having trouble out of the tighter bends, costing some time, and most crews asked seem to focus on lack of grip rather than rough conditions as the main issue. Ogier in particular commented on low grip in the stages.
    Last edited by SD_GR; 06-01-2013 at 10:57 AM.
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    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
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    Saturday

    SS3: Novikov and Latvala share stage win


    Saturday’s opening test on the Acropolis Rally resulted in a dead-heat between rally leader Evgeny Novikov [pictured] and the man in second place, Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Volkswagen Polo R driver Latvala was the first of the pair to complete the stage, and was pleased to have done enough to move ahead of Dani Sordo into second position.

    “It was a really good stage,” acknowledged Latvala. “Normally [my co-driver] Miikka is not commenting on my driving, but when he says it was good it was good – and he did in there. Now we need to keep the pressure on [Novikov] but remember to stay calm and focused.”

    Emerging from the stage after Latvala, however, Ford Fiesta RS driver Novikov seemed anything but pressured. “I have Latvala’s splits, so I followed them. I could go a bit faster if I needed to,” the Russian calmly explained.

    Dani Sordo was third quickest, 13.5sec slower than the lead pair. “It’s difficult to find a rhythm but I’ll continue to try, I want to push but I don’t want to make a mistake.”

    Thierry Neuville was fourth quickest, and said the rough state of the road had taken him by surprise.

    The first three drivers through the stage - and the ones to encounter the worst of the slippery gravel - were the drivers who had hit trouble on Friday’s opening test.

    The trio was led by Volkwagen Polo R driver Sebastien Ogier who is first in Saturday’s start order after a fuel pressure problem forced his retirement from day one. “It was okay but for sure really slippy. I tried but it’s not easy,” said the Frenchman who was eighth fastest.

    Asked what result he though he could salvage from this rally, Ogier said: “I have absolutely no idea where I can finish. We have to drive and see what happens.”

    Mikko Hirvonen was seventh fastest from his position of second in the start order. “It was okay, but there’s lots of loose gravel and it’s really slippery. The stage is cleaning a lot.”

    Third in the start order, Mads Ostberg was fifth quickest. “I couldn’t do anything more. The stage is cleaning a lot but at least the guys ahead are leaving good lines.”

    click: wrc.com/news/archive/acropolis ss3



    -------------------------------

    SS4: Novikov loses lead after puncture

    Evgeny Novikov saw his hopes of victory in the Acropolis Rally all but disappear when he dropped more than 4min 30sec after puncturing a tyre early in the rocky Ghymno stage.

    The Russian had led after setting a blistering pace since yesterday evening’s start, but after stopping to replace the rear right tyre on his Ford Fiesta RS, he plunged to eighth.

    “I think we hit the same stone that Jari-Matti Latvala hit last year. I got a puncture and broke something in the suspension,” he explained.

    Novikov’s issues promoted Latvala into the lead. The Finn was fastest by 10.9sec in his Volkswagen Polo R from Dani Sordo, who now lies second, but Latvala was simply relieved to complete the test without a problem.

    “It’s very rough,” he told WRC Live. “I can’t push any more than now. I hit a bank and there was a stone there. We didn’t get a puncture but we were very, very lucky.”

    Sordo had refused to become embroiled in chasing Novikov, the Spaniard’s Acropolis experience telling him that outright pace rarely pays dividends on such a rough rally.

    “I looked at the speed of Evgeny and Jari-Matti and thought something would happen,” said the Citroen DS3 pilot. “It’s very easy to make a mistake here if you are pushing like hell. I didn’t take any risks, there is no reason to do so.”

    Thierry Neuville was third fastest in a Fiesta RS and the Belgian climbed to third overall. “I didn’t push too much, I just drove the stage. My brakes overheated but otherwise no problems. It’s getting more rough, and it’s difficult for the car,” he said.

    Fourth quickest was Sebastien Ogier, the Polo R driver shrugging off the handicap of being first on the road. The Frenchman admitted the stage was slippery, but dropping 19.3sec to Latvala was still an impressive effort.

    click: wrc.com/news/archive/acropolis ss4



    -------------------------------

    SS5: Latvala takes 50th stage win for Polo R



    Jari-Matti Latvala was quickest through the 18km Kefalari test to claim the 50th stage win for Volkwagen’s Polo R from 95 stage starts this year.

    The Finn extended his Acropolis Rally lead to 18.8sec over Dani Sordo, who was second quickest in a Citroen DS3 WRC.

    However Latvala, who has won all of the stages this morning, was feeling less than comfortable in his new position as rally leader.

    “It’s demanding,” he said. “Before I was the guy who was trying to catch the people ahead, now they are trying to catch me. So the game has changed a bit. I wasn’t very relaxed in there. I have a rhythm but it could be better.”

    Sordo completed the stage in a time 3.2sec slower than Latvala’s. “I seem to be losing a lot of time in the slow corners so I took it carefully to try and find out why,” the Spaniard explained.

    “I need to learn this for other rough rallies like Sardegna. I need to get better in these sorts of stages. I’m happy though, it’s good.”

    Sebastien Ogier was third fastest, and making the most of the opportunity to test his Polo R in the slippery conditions at the field of the field. “We tried to push but it’s not easy. We tried to adapt our set-up to the conditions,” he said.

    Ogier’s team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen delivered a heroic Acropolis performance, driving his Polo R through most of the 18km mountain stage with no brakes.

    click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss5



    -------------------------------

    SS6

    Latvala stretches Acropolis lead


    Jari-Matti Latvala won three of the four morning stages in the second leg of the Acropolis Rally to build an 18.7sec lead over Dani Sordo.

    The Finn was third after last night’s opening combat, but took his Volkswagen Polo R into the lead when Evgeny Novikov stopped to change a punctured rear right tyre on his Ford Fiesta RS after swiping a rock early in SS4.

    Latvala was fortunate to escape a similar fate after hitting a bank in the same stage. However, the only blemish on a clean sweep of stage wins came in the final 21.36km Ziria test when Sordo edged him out by just a tenth of a second.

    “I’m happy with the car, although we have a little bit of work to do with the differential. It’s not perfect. There are no problems, but we could improve the set-up. The car isn’t exactly as I want it, as it’s understeering a bit coming out of corners,” he explained.

    Novikov’s impact damaged the brakes and suspension and the Russian emerged from Ziria with the wheel pointing at an alarming angle. “I had no choice but to drive it as it is. I have to be able to get to service to continue,” he said, after dropping more than 8min 30sec to plunge to 11th.

    The gravel roads in the Peloponnese peninsula were littered with rocks and Sordo’s plan of picking his way around them rather than focusing on sheer pace paid off.

    “I’m quite happy with this,” said the Spaniard. “I don’t want to think about the results, just the performance. It’s easy to make a mistake here if you are pushing like hell, and I have no reason to do that.”

    Thierry Neuville lies third in a Fiesta RS, 52.1sec behind Sordo, the Belgian matching his pace to the split times of those around him.

    Read More: wrc.com/news/latvala-stretches-acropolis-lead



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    SS7: Latvala heads a Polo 1-2-3



    Jari-Matti Latvala extended his lead of the Acropolis Rally on stage seven, taking another stage win to pull 29.9sec clear of Dani Sordo in second.

    The Finn led a trio of Volkswagen Polo R drivers at the top of the SS7 results sheet, with Sebastien Ogier second fastest, 3.7sec adrift, and Andreas Mikkelsen third, 0.8sec further back.

    The repeat of Klenia Mycenae was a rougher challenge than the earlier pass, with big stones littering the route and a more abrasive bedrock surface that had been largely swept free of loose gravel.

    But despite the numerous hazards, Latvala kept his boot down and completed in test in 11m 14.4s – nine seconds quicker than his time in the morning.

    “It was good, no problems,” said Latvala. “The car was good, we had a good feeling so overall I’m very happy.”

    Sordo however took a more cautious approach, bringing his Citroen DS3 to the finish in the seventh fastest time. “The road is completely destroyed and there are a lot of stones everywhere. Latvala is pushing like hell, yes? My plan is to keep out of trouble.”

    Third placed Thierry Neuville was also concentrating on self-preservation. “There were many rocks on the [racing] line,” said the Belgian, who was sixth fastest. “I thought many times we would get a puncture, but we got away with it. I lost three or four seconds with a stall, but otherwise I just tried to be careful.”

    click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss7



    ----------------------------

    SS8: Novikov masters the rocks



    Rough – a short word but one uttered by every driver after a test in which several said it was so rocky that simply keeping hold of the steering wheel proved difficult.

    Evgeny Novikov kept a firm grip inside his Ford Fiesta RS to set fastest time by 4.6sec from rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R (pictured).

    How did he do it? “You have to avoid touching anything on either the outside or the inside of the road then you can still drive quickly,” said the Russian.

    Driving quickly was not uppermost in most drivers’ minds. Simply getting through unscathed was the focus of most and second-placed Dani Sordo summed it up best.

    “It’s terrible. It’s so rough that you cannot drive. There are stones everywhere, the road is completely destroyed. You have to go through the corners slowly because if you go fast then you will break something. It’s a lottery,” said the Spaniard, whose caution brought him sixth fastest time. The Citroen DS3 pilot is now 44.7sec behind Latvala.

    The Finn delivered what co-driver Miikka Anttila described as ‘a controlled drive’. “After all the years as a youngster, I’m finally starting to see my experience is paying off!” he joked.

    click: wrc.com/news/greece ss8



    ----------------------------

    SS9: Latvala in control as the rain comes down

    Jari-Matti Latvala remains in control of the Acropolis despite rain showers on stage nine adding another dimension to the Greek challenge.

    The Finn was second quickest through the repeated Kefalari, and will take a 49.2 sec advantage over Dani Sordo into Saturday’s final stage

    “I was a little bit worried when I saw the rain because I thought it was going to be slippy,” said Latvala. “Okay, we lost grip in one or two places, and went wide a couple of times, but otherwise it turned out to be a good stage.”

    Behind him, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville were fourth and sixth fastest respectively as they adopted a cautious approach to preserve their podium positions.

    Nasser Al-Attiyah had the upper hand in the battle for fourth, the Qatari going eighth-fastest to extend the gap slightly to the chasing Andreas Mikkelsen.

    But when Mikkelsen’s Polo R arrived at the finish with its right-hand rear tyre hanging off the rim it was clear he was not running at full strength.

    “I’m not sure about where the damage came from, but it’s not that special - we hit small things all the time,“ said the Norwegian. “We are just trying to keep the good pace without going over the limit. I was a bit careful in there over the crests. I like the next stage so hopefully we can get a bit of a push on in that one.”

    click: wrc.com/news/greece ss9



    ----------------------------

    SS10

    Jari-Matti Latvala prospered during a grueling second day of the Acropolis Rally to climb from third to first and will take a lead of more than a minute into tomorrow's final leg.

    The Volkswagen Polo R driver made his move when leader Evgeny Novikov swiped a bank with the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS in SS4. The impact broke a wheel and while the 4min 30sec time loss sent the Russian plunging down the order, Latvala, who overhauled Dani Sordo for second in the previous stage, moved to the front.

    The Finn built a 18.7sec lead after the first loop of four stages and widened that to 64.1sec during the afternoon, despite heavy rain and roads so rocky that drivers struggled to retain a grip on their steering wheel.

    “It was a solid performance and the VW team did good work in changing some parts. But we must remember this is the Acropolis and there could still be drama tomorrow,” said Latvala, who won four stages but was lucky to escape an impact with a bank.

    Sordo refused to become embroiled in the short but fierce battle between Novikov and Latvala. He drove at a speed with which he felt comfortable, content to look after his Citroen DS3 and unwilling to chase the lead.

    “I took no risks,” was the phrase he used at virtually every stage finish. “I tried to control the punctures and the problems,” he said.

    Thierry Neuville was a model of consistency in third in his Ford Fiesta RS. The Belgian has been criticised for making mistakes earlier in the year but he steered clear of trouble to end 39.0sec behind Sordo.

    “We made no mistakes and we didn’t push in the bad places. I’m happy with myself and we showed we can be clever sometimes,” he said.

    Read More: wrc.com/news/latvala-takes-64sec-lead-into-acropolis-finale/




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    SS11: Mikkelsen takes fight to Nasser




    Andreas Mikkelsen was a man on a mission through the opening stage of today’s third and final leg, the Norwegian firmly focused on coming out on top in his battle for fourth place with Nasser Al-Attiyah.

    The Volkswagen Polo R driver was quickest by 2.2sec from Evgeny Novikov’s Ford Fiesta RS. But, more importantly, he was 9.9sec quicker than Al-Attiyah’s Fiesta RS and reduced the gap between the pair to 15.8sec.

    With a very short road section before the next stage, Mikkelsen was eager to leave the finish and only said: “We pushed hard, maybe a little too hard because we need to finish.”

    Al-Attiyah was relaxed, despite only setting ninth fastest time. “It was such a tight stage. I know Andreas and he will push a lot. I didn’t want to take a risk but we will try to push on the next stage, the long one,” the Qatari told WRC Live.

    The drivers in the podium places took no risks. Leader Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth in his Polo R, 3.9sec behind Mikkelsen, and said: “It was difficult to get a rhythm as it was quite rutted in places because it was used partly on Friday.”

    Second-placed Dani Sordo was seventh in his Citroen DS3. The Spaniard was content to match his pace to that of Thierry Neuville, the man behind him in the standings, who was eighth in his Fiesta RS.

    “We controlled the split times against Neuville. We have nothing to do now, so we follow his times,” said Sordo.

    Elsewhere, Sebastien Ogier was third fastest with Mikko Hirvonen behind him. Mads Ostberg dropped a few seconds with a spin and had to reverse before continuing.

    click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss11



    -----------------------------

    SS12: Mikkelsen takes fourth

    Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen moved up to fourth on the 30km Loutraki, when another stage-winning performance in his Polo R got him ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah.

    Mikkelsen heads to the midday service with a 1.9sec advantage over Ford Fiesta RS driver Al-Attiyah.

    “It was a good stage,” acknowledged Mikkelsen. “Rough in places, so we had to try and take care of the car as well as go fast, which wasn’t easy. I made three or four mistakes when I got out of the lines and lost traction, but otherwise no problems.”

    Attiyah was not surprised to have lost the place and said it wouldn’t affect his event strategy. “I knew he would go fast and now he has passed us, but we’ll keep at this pace. I don’t want to take any more risks and maybe there will be mistakes ahead - it’s very rough.”

    For the three drivers in the provisional podium positions - Jari-Matti Latvala, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville - stage 12 was all about managing risk and getting their cars through cleanly.

    Sordo’s stage end comments summed up their approach: “I’m trying not to make any mistakes, so no risks. Just trying to drive in the middle of the road and take it easy. At the same time I need to stay concentrated - it’s very easy to make a mistake.”

    click: wrc.com/news/acropolis ss12



    ------------------------------

    SS13: Latvala poised for Greek win

    Just 30.14kms of competition stand between Jari-Matti Latvala and his first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship for Volkswagen Motorsport.

    The Finn and co-driver Miikka Anttila safely negotiated the penultimate 11.47km Pissia stage in their Polo R and will start the final Loutraki test with a 1min 28.8sec advantage over Dani Sordo’s Citroen DS3 at the top of the leaderboard.

    “Everything went according to plan,” said Latvala. “I guess it’s the time to concentrate on winning the rally and not the Power Stage.”

    Fastest through Pissia was Andreas Mikkelsen, whose Polo R was 4.5sec quicker than Nasser Al-Attiyah’s Ford Fiesta RS. Mikkelsen’s win extended his advantage over Al-Attiyah to 6.4sec in their battle for fourth place.

    None of the leading drivers reported any issues, their minds focused on the possibility of taking bonus points though the Loutraki Power stage and the finish this afternoon in the town of Loutraki.

    click: wrc.com/news/latvala-poised-for-greek-win/



    ------------------------------

    SS14: Power Stage



    ----------------------------

    WRC wrap: Happy anniversary for Latvala



    Jari-Matti Latvala completed a comfortable victory in the Acropolis Rally this afternoon, 10 years after his debut drive in a World Rally Car in this event.

    It was the Finn’s maiden win in a Volkswagen Polo R and came after a difficult start to the 2013 campaign for Latvala, who joined the German squad this year.

    He finished the 306.53km three-day rally 1min 50.0sec clear of Dani Sordo in a Citroen DS3, with Thierry Neuville claiming a second career podium a further 24.1sec behind in a Ford Fiesta RS.

    In 2003 Latvala became the youngest driver to pilot a works car when he drove a Ford Focus RS on the Greek rally at just 18. Since then he has won seven WRC events for Ford, before clinching his eighth success today for Volkswagen.

    “It feels amazing. It was a tough start to the season and this was an important moment. It’s 10 years ago since I drove my first rally in a World Rally Car and it has taken me all that time to win here. Yesterday I wasn’t thinking about winning, but this morning I thought about it a lot, especially in the last stage,” said Latvala.

    He was downbeat after a poor qualifying gave him a bad start position for Friday’s opening leg. However, he ended the day in third and moved to the front yesterday morning when leader Evgeny Novikov hit a bank and broke a wheel, gradually building his lead thereafter.

    Sordo staked his claim for second in the opening stage and was never ousted. The Spaniard refused to become drawn into the short, but fierce battle between Latvala and Novikov, measuring his pace over the rock-strewn gravel roads which make this the toughest round of the FIA Rally Championship.

    “After all the problems I’ve had in other rallies this year, this one was so good and it will give me a lot of confidence,” said Sordo.

    Like Sordo, Neuville maintained a consistent pace and third was the perfect birthday present for girlfriend Jessica.

    “We had a good strategy and the others made mistakes. We had a good clean run yesterday and no problems today. I thought we had a puncture after 5km of the final stage so I slowed, but it was OK and we continued to push,” said the Belgian.

    Andreas Mikkelsen claimed a career-best fourth on only his third rally in a Polo R. Brake problems and a puncture hindered him in his battle with Nasser Al-Attiyah, but the Norwegian overhauled the Qatari’s Fiesta RS three stages from the finish and came home 17.5sec clear.

    Read More: wrc.com/news/wrc-wrap


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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    It's shaping up to be as close to a proper Acropolis as the current rules allow. Sordo's comment, "It's terrible..." says it all. Proper.
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    -----------------------------------------------------

    WRC 2: Kubica bags first World Championship win

    Robert Kubica has taken his first win in the World Championship by securing victory in the WRC 2 class of the Acropolis Rally - the roughest round of the season.

    The Formula One ace brought his Citroen DS3 RRC cleanly through Sunday’s final four stages to win by 1min 29.8sec from Yuriy Protasov in a Ford Fiesta RRC.

    Kubica dominated the WRC 2 competition in Greece. He took the lead on Friday’s opening stage and went fastest on the first nine tests to pull more than two minutes clear of the chasing pack.

    He later switched to a more cautious approach, avoiding trouble on the rocky gravel stages to secure a maximum 25 championship points.

    “Finally, after a disappointing period with my mistakes and car failure, today is a great day,” said Kubica. “I think the best thing is that I learned a lot here. These are completely opposite conditions to what I’ve been used to for the last 20 years.

    “Coming here and driving in a good way, managing to keep the car on the road without damage is already an achievement. Winning is even more.

    “But there is a long way to go. I know I have to learn a lot and for sure the next rallies will improve me even more. There is still long way to go before I get to the level I want to reach.”

    On his first rally in the Fiesta RRC, Ukrainian Protasov held off a final day challenge from Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari to take 18 points for the runner-up spot. “I pushed all the time through. I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.

    Al-Kuwari, from Qatar, consoled himself with a 15-point haul for third that keeps him in the lead of the WRC 2 championship.

    “We tried our best but we couldn’t make back the time we lost earlier,” the Fiesta RRC driver explained. “It’s okay, 15 points is not bad. We came here wanting top three and we got that - we are happy.”

    click: wrc.com/news/wrc-2


    ------------------------------

    JWRC: Suarez takes Junior WRC win in Greece



    Jose Suarez won the second round of the FIA Junior WRC Championship today at the Acropolis Rally in Greece.

    It was his first victory outside his native Spain – his only other success coming at Rally de Espana last year.

    His Ford Fiesta R2 finished 1min 04.2sec ahead of Pontus Tidemand, who fought back from an opening stage puncture on Friday which cost more than two minutes. The Swede, winner of the opening round in Portugal, won eight of the 10 stages and retains the series lead, 10 points ahead of Suarez.

    “I didn't used to find it so easy competing on gravel, but my results this weekend really show the improvement I've made since I started competing in the WRC Academy in 2011,” said Suarez.

    “I had to drive steadily and carefully after I took the lead, which wasn't easy with Pontus always pushing, but my strategy paid off,” he added.

    Tidemand was relieved to keep his series lead. “It wasn't easy getting a puncture so early in the rally, immediately putting us at a disadvantage. But we found a good rhythm and pace, climbed to second and were really happy to hold our lead in the championship,” he said.

    Sander Parn took the final podium place, inheriting third when Murat Bostanci retired on the final stage with a broken driveshaft. Bostanci relegated Parn from third on Saturday’s final stage when the Estonian lost time with a puncture, and was more than 40 seconds clear before disaster struck.

    Michael Burri was fourth, despite suspension problems yesterday, with young Finn Niko-Pekka Nieminen and Martin Koci completing the finishers.

    click: wrc.com/jwrc/news/

    ------------------------------

    WRC on YT: youtube.com/wrc

    ------------------------------

    Next: Rnd 7 WRC Italia Sardinia Jun20-23



    Sardinia has hosted Italy’s FIA World Rally Championship counter since its switch from the mainland in 2004 and the event remains one of the most demanding on the calendar.

    Although the island’s stages are predominantly fast and narrow, the terrain is a mixture of flat open areas and undulating tracks through woodland with water splashes and spectacular jumps thrown in for good measure. Ordinarily the surface is hard with rock-strewn sections commonplace, while ruts will often form after the first pass.

    Official Website: rallyitaliasardegna.com/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
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  14. #13
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    First local this year: Themis Chalkias in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, in 22nd overall.
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    Man is a brute.... If you're cruel to him, he respects and fears you. If you're kind to him, he plucks your eyes out. Alexis Zorbas
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
    DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are the author's alone and are inherently worthless.

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