30 May 08
BP-Ford Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala was the early pacesetter on the Acropolis Rally, completing the opening test 5.2 seconds quicker than anybody else.
But despite a clean run through the 11.57km stage, Latvala said he hadn’t forgotten the last WRC round in Sardinia, where he also led after the first stage only to go off and lose 90 seconds on the next one.
Running as fourth car on the road, Latvala thought he was benefiting from a swept racing line on the sandy surface. “I need to use this benefit. I need to be clever. But at the same time I remember what happened in Sardinina so I must calm down,” said Latvala. “I’m sure it was very slippery for Mikko and Sebastien, but okay it was a good drive for us, now we need to keep it.”
Total-Citroen team driver Dani Sordo was Latvala’s closest rival. “There was a lot of loose sand in the stage and the ground is not very hard,” said Sordo. “It’s the same for everybody but I think I drove well and I’m happy with the time.”
First and second drivers on the road, Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb both reported a slippery surface but no incidents. At the finish there was nothing to separate them and they set the same time of 10min 40.1sec.
Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson completed the first stage with the new Impreza WRC2008 without incident. They set the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively. “Yeah, it’s okay,” said Solberg. “I’m just trying to get everything right and settle into a good rhythm. It’s going well.”