30 May 08
The first run through Friday’s longest stage led to the first WRC casualties of the 2008 Acropolis.
Italian Gigi Galli was first to go; the Stobart team driver brought to a halt at the 12.7km mark after hitting a rock. The impact broke the right-hand front track control arm of his Ford Focus RS WRC which in turn pulled the driveshaft out of the gearbox.
Subaru privateer Mads Ostberg was the second WRC driver to retire, parking his 2007 specification Impreza 9km from the start line. It is not yet known what caused him to stop.
Sebastien Loeb was the stage winner, completing the 23.76km section a slender three-tenths of a second ahead of his team-mate Dani Sordo. “Yeah, it was a good time compared to Mikko’s, I think my road position helped,” said Loeb.” But I tried really hard. I couldn’t do any better.”
Jari Matti Latvala was third fastest, 4.3 seconds behind Sordo. “Perhaps I was a bit too calm in there,” said Latvala. “But I’m not too concerned; we still have a long way to go. I’m quite happy to have got that one out of the way, now it’s maximum concentration for the third.”
Suzuki World Rally Team driver Toni Gardemeister set the 12th fastest time after encountering a fuel system problem. “The first stage was okay, but on that one we lost speed because there wasn’t enough fuel reaching the engine,” he said. “I think there was a problem with the fuel pump, at one point the car stopped completely for a few seconds.”