03 Jun 09
For those who thought the last round of the Production Car World Rally Championship in Italy was good, watch this space. It’s about to go up another notch.
And the bad news for the drivers chasing series leader Nasser Al-Attiyah is that the Acropolis Rally is just his kind of event.
Having cut his teeth rallying in the desert, hot, dry and rocky conditions are the norm for Nasser. And what’s more, the Subaru driver is on a roll. His wins in Argentina and Italy mean he’s chasing a hat-trick. The only glimmer of hope for Al-Attiyah’s rivals could be the Subaru’s steering, which has shown itself to be a weak point this season - but Al-Attiyah is confident the Japanese manufacturer and his team will have that sorted in time for the Loutraki start of round six.
Al-Attiyah’s last win on the Acropolis came in 2006 - the year he collected the Production title. The amiable Qatari is hoping for more of the same this season. “I like the Acropolis,” he said. “It’s a tough event and this is going to be a particularly tough rally - without any main service on the opening day. But I like these kinds of roads. It’s going to be a big battle, just like every round has been this season.”
And there was no tougher battle than in Italy, when Al-Attiyah snatched victory from Sandell at the 11th hour. Just when Sandell thought he had everything under control, the one factor he hadn’t included was a stupefying effort from his rival through the final test. Sandell will be ready for that this time around as he too chases his third win of the year.
The only other driver to have scored 10 P-WRC points on a 2009 round is Armindo Araujo - making it three drivers and three manufacturers separated by three points at the top of the Production table.
Eyvind Brynildsen is the only one of the leading drivers to miss the Acropolis Rally of Greece, with 17 Production runners taking the start alongside the Corinth Canal on Thursday evening.
Martin Prokop (Mitsubishi) and double Production champion Toshi Arai (Subaru) also have the ability to feature at the front of the field, particularly the Japanese who has won P-WRC on this event before and usually goes well on the rougher style of rallies.
Stefano Marrini returns to the P-WRC after his last outing in Argentina, with his Mitsubishi replacing the Subaru of Gaurav Gill. And Lambras Athanassonlas is nominated as a wild card entry. The 32-year-old, former Greek Cup winner, drives a Skoda Fabia S2000 on his ninth Acropolis Rally.