06 June 2004 - 07:48
WRC: Rally Acropolis, Solberg ends Focus domination in Greece
World Champion Petter Solberg won the 51st edition of the Acropolis Rally, leading the race from stage four until the finish. Solberg found the right rhythm to dominate this grueling event. The podium is completed by Sebastien Loeb - who increases his championship lead - and Harri Rovanpera.
Solberg dominates the race
Petter Solberg lead almost the entire race, putting his Subaru in first place as early as stage four and didn't let go of this position for the rest of the event. Petter takes his seventh WRC win of his career, his second of the season after New Zealand.
Solberg also confirms the superiority of the Impreza on gravel, the 2004 version of the car impressed since its debut in Mexico. With today's performance, Solberg moves up to second place in the drivers' championship, five points behind Loeb.
Mikko Hirvonen didn't make it to the end of the rally. The Finn had a few good stage times but is still outpaced by his teammate. His retirement at the end of leg 2 didn't give him the opportunity to show his full potential.
Loeb increases his lead
After losing some time in leg 1, where he had to open the road the entire day, Sebastien Loeb improved his pace on Saturday. The Citroлn driver started moving up in the standings, finishing the race in second place. Seb had to fight against Rovanpera and Duval and succeeded to beat his two rivals, which helped him to increase his lead in the drivers' championship.
Carlos Sainz never gave up despite losing forty minutes in the first leg. The Spaniard had to settle for a testing role, finishing the race in nineteenth position. At least Carlos brings three important points to Citroлn in the constructors' championship.
First podium of the season for Rovanpera
Harri Rovanpera is doing better and better at the wheel of the 307 WRC since his come-back in the third rally of the season. The Finn managed to bring his car in fifth place in New Zealand despite having a few technical problems during the event and today Harri finishes on the podium for the first time this year. A good performance by Rovanpera, who battled against Loeb until the end of the race.
Marcus Gronholm was very competitive in the first part of the race but unfortunately the Finn broke a suspension arm on his 307 in the early part of leg 2. Marcus had to retire and will have to wait to give the 307 its first victory.
Solid performance by Duval
Francois Duval drove a solid race, battling for a long time with the leaders. Near the end of the event, Francois slowed down to preserve his fourth position, a smart move that gives Ford valuable points in the constructors' championship.
Markko Martin didn't have a good weekend. The Estonian went off the road and had to retire. Markko misses a golden opportunity to score points which would have been really helpful for him in the drivers' championship.
More difficulties and a discreet come-back
No miracles were expected at Mitsubishi and Skoda. Gilles Panizzi and Dani Sola tried to continue the development work of the Lancer during the race. Only the French driver was able to reach the finish, bringing four points to Mitsubishi.
At Skoda, Toni Gardemeister and Armin Schwarz retired in the first leg. But the two drivers claimed that the Fabia made good progress, which will have to be confirmed in the next rally.
Good results for the privateers
Bozian Racing drivers Daniel Carlsson and Manfred Stohl both finish in the top 10. The Swede, who was excellent all weekend, takes a superb fifth place and scores four additional points in the championship. Manfred Stohl leaves Greece with three points and a sixth place finish. Janne Tuohino is in the points once again, just like in Sweden and Cyprus. The final point goes to local driver and former Acropolis winner Aris Vovos.
Guy Wilks wins the Junior category in front of Nicolas Bernardi and Xavier Pons. Bernardi is still leading the championship.
Stig Blomqvist takes the victory in the Group N class at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza.
CAPSIS International [06/06/04 - 16:14]