Another repeat from 2012. The opening kilometres are on wide roads through pine forests and stunning scenery. But at the midpoint it becomes narrower and rougher, before dipping and diving among the trees as it heads to the finish.
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala remains in control of the Acropolis despite rain showers on stage nine adding another dimension to the Greek challenge.
The Finn was second quickest through the repeated Kefalari, and will take a 49.2 sec advantage over Dani Sordo into Saturday’s final stage
“I was a little bit worried when I saw the rain because I thought it was going to be slippy,” said Latvala. “Okay, we lost grip in one or two places, and went wide a couple of times, but otherwise it turned out to be a good stage.”
Behind him, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville were fourth and sixth fastest respectively as they adopted a cautious approach to preserve their podium positions.
Nasser Al-Attiyah had the upper hand in the battle for fourth, the Qatari going eighth-fastest to extend the gap slightly to the chasing Andreas Mikkelsen.
But when Mikkelsen’s Polo R arrived at the finish with its right-hand rear tyre hanging off the rim it was clear he was not running at full strength.
“I’m not sure about where the damage came from, but it’s not that special - we hit small things all the time,“ said the Norwegian. “We are just trying to keep the good pace without going over the limit. I was a bit careful in there over the crests. I like the next stage so hopefully we can get a bit of a push on in that one.”
Evgeny Novikov was the stage winner. The Russian, who is ninth, completed the 18km test 1.5sec quicker than Latvala.