Stage data: SS12, Kefalari 1 (18.40 kilometres)
By M-Sport Ford Rally Team co-driver Denis Giraudet: “Half of this stage is beautiful with a nice uphill section, quite wide with fantastic scenery where you can take some fantastic pictures when you are not driving. But after nine or 10 kilometres it’s not so nice because it’s narrow, twisty with lots of rocks on the side of the road. We had a puncture last year.”
How the action unfolded:
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.
Hirvonen, meanwhile, said he “took it quite steady” in the second works Citroen but conceded that he would prefer to be close to the front-running pace.
Mads Ostberg reported a problem with a rear driveshaft on his Adapta World Rally Team Fiesta but has nevertheless managed to close the gap to sixth-placed Martin Prokop to 7.1s after Prokop admitted to making several mistakes early in the stage by running wide on several corners.
Evgeny Novikov could be in trouble with reports that his Fiesta was revving too high at the stage finish, despite the Russian insisting that there were no issues.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier changed a bent steering arm on his Skoda Fabia Super 2000 before the stage got underway. The Frenchman was 11th fastest overall.