Stage data: SS16, Kefalari 2 (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:
Petter Solberg has taken 1.4s out of Sebastien Loeb’s overall lead on the Acropolis Rally, round six of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, with rain making driving conditions extremely difficult.
Solberg, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, is now 14.1s behind Loeb’s Citroen DS3 WRC in the overall classification. And the Norwegian could have been faster still but for an overshoot at a junction.
“I lost seven seconds and my driving wasn’t perfect in the last six kilometres,” said Solberg. “It would be nice to take a big chunk of time out of Loeb but he’s a clever guy and he’s good in these conditions also. There’s a long way to go so let’s focus properly now.”
Loeb was far from happy at the stage finish due to the slippery conditions. “At the end of the stage it was impossible to drive,” said the WRC title leader. “In a place where you normally pass at 120kph you had to pass at 40kph. It’s impossible, you don’t control the car at all.”
Solberg’s Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is soldiering on with only three working brakes on his Fiesta RS WRC, the legacy of the damage sustained with his puncture on stage 14. “It’s quite difficult to drive especially now when it’s damp and wet. I have to go very slowly now.”
Andreas Mikkelsen had been expected to post a strong time in his Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia Super 2000 after revealing he was planning to use his two soft compound tyres, which he is carrying as spares. Unfortunately, Mikkelsen stopped 13.47 kilometres into the test with a suspected mechanical failure.