Stage data: SS8, Elikonas 2 (19.89 kilometres)
By M-Sport Ford Rally Team co-driver Denis Giraudet: “It’s a very old stage and we used it as a test stage with Citroen and Peugeot many times. It’s very rough and tough and for the second time around, for the tyres, it will be a disaster. It’s very difficult but at the same time it’s beautiful. I would say this stage is the heart of the Acropolis Rally.”
How the action unfolded:
Petter Solberg reclaimed third place from Mikko Hirvonen on stage eight of the Acropolis Rally.
Firmly back on the pace after his stage six scare, Solberg was quickest on the repeat of the Elikonas stage, and his pace coupled with a disappointing time for his Citroen rival saw the Ford not just take third place overall, but pull nearly eight seconds clear of Hirvonen, who has not been happy with his car's handling this afternoon.
But although Ford could celebrate reclaiming third, the advantage remains with Citroen in the outright lead battle.
Jari-Matti Latvala had trimmed a few fractions from Sebastien Loeb's lead on the preceding stage and looked like he was set to make greater inroads on Elikonas, only for Loeb to respond with a charge through the final kilometres after the split times alerted him to Latvala's progress.
"I was pushing hard. I saw Petter and Jari-Matti taking a bit of time, so I pushed really, really hard at the end of the stage. If I could do more, I'd do more. It's flat-out," Loeb declared.
Latvala ended up dropping 0.8s to Loeb, to his frustration.
"I thought I was driving well, but I'm a bit disappointed," he said.
Behind the leaders, there were myriad dramas in the rest of the World Rally car field.
Fifth-placed Mads Ostberg is nursing a driveshaft he feels is on the brink of failing in his Adapta Ford, while sixth position man Thierry Neuville said his Citroen Junior-entered DS3 WRC was also developing a transmission issue near the end of the stage.
Evgeny Novikov managed to fix the turbo issue on his M-Sport Ford before the stage, only for a loose gear selector to cause further time loss on stage eight. The Russian's team-mate Ott Tanak had to retire on the road section due to the damage his car sustained on the previous stage.