The World Rally Championship Mailing List is brought to you by:
Digital Rally - 'get virtually sideways'
Please also support the World Rally Discussion List: http://www.arnal.es/wr
48th Acropolis Rally
Round 7 of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship
Official FIA Press Release
Sunday, 17 June 2001
[WRC] Acropolis Rally: Colin McRae wins!
Ford's Colin McRae has scored his third win in succession in this year's FIA World Rally Championship after a dramatic finish to the seventh round, the Acropolis Rally. The Scot and co-driver Nicky Grist entered the final 38km stage just 7.5 seconds ahead of their team-mate Carlos Sainz, but the Spaniard's engine failed 8km into the test and he was forced to retire. With McRae's other main challenger Richard Burns losing time with an accident this morning (and subsequently retiring with propshaft failure), Norway's Petter Solberg threaded his Subaru Impreza over the rough Greek tracks to claim a career-best second place.
McRae's victory lifted his career WRC wins total to 23, equalling the record held by Sainz and Juha Kankkunen, and vaulted the 1995 champion to the joint lead of the drivers' championship with Tommi Mäkinen, who finished fourth in Greece.
Technical: The Focus RS WRC01s of Colin McRae and François Delecour have been reliable today, but Carlos Sainz's car lapsed onto three cylinders and then lost oil pressure 8km into the final stage, forcing the Spaniard into retirement.
Sporting: Colin McRae admitted that he was 'relieved' to see father Jim holding out a board confirming that Carlos Sainz had retired during the last stage, for McRae had seen his overnight lead slashed by a remorseless attack from the Spaniard throughout today's tests. The double world champion took nearly seven seconds from the middle loop of three tests, setting up a grandstand finish that was eventually spoilt by his engine problems.
François Delecour was feeling further pain in his right wrist today after he had to do a test without power steering yesterday, but the Frenchman set consistently quick times and despite two punctures in the last two stages he finished fifth.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "It's great to get three in a row and hopefully we'll make it a fourth in Kenya next month! I was fairly confident going into the last stage but then about halfway through I saw the board telling me that Carlos was out. It's unfortunate for him and it was a good fight. The championship fight is obviously very much alive now.
Carlos Sainz said: "The car slowed suddenly, then it went onto three cylinders and the oil pressure dropped. This sport can be very cruel sometimes, and I'm used to these things, but it's still very hard to take. I was confident we could challenge Colin.
Ford World Rally team principal Malcolm Wilson said: "This is a 'bittersweet' victory, for while we're obviously delighted with Colin's performance and result, we feel for Carlos. There were no team orders and we had confidence that the car would last, but it's just one of those situations. But we have to take satisfaction from Colin's win and a good team performance.
Technical: Richard Burns suffered gearbox problems on this morning's second stage, although his accident had cost him more than two minutes earlier anyway. The Englishman put the gearbox into 'safe change mode', which meant it took around two seconds for each shift. He then had to retire in SS19 with propshaft problems after just half a kilometre. Petter Solberg's Impreza has been more reliable - the young Norwegian changed the centre differential last night and was happier with the car's handling today as a result. He hit gearbox problems in the last stage but jammed the 'box in fourth and reached the finish.
Sporting: Richard Burns set fastest time on today's opening stage to put greater pressure on the Fords of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, but on the longer second test he slid off the road and had to wait until spectators could return the car to the stage. The incident cost him more than two minutes, and he was then held up in the dust of team-mate Petter Solberg. A gearbox problem cost him more time in the same stage. Burns dropped to seventh, and his subsequent fightback was halted by propshaft failure in SS19. Petter Solberg started this morning's first test hoping to hold off Harri Rovanperä for fourth, and that became a battle for third when Burns slid off. Despite stalling at one hairpin and filling the car with dust at another, and gearbox problems in the last stage, the Subaru driver did enough to score the first WRC podium finish of his career.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "I braked too late for a second-gear corner and the car slid down a bank on the outside of the bend. I kept my foot on the throttle in the hope that it'd pull back onto the road but the bank was too steep and there was too much loose gravel so we had to wait until some people arrived to help us. But it was my mistake - there's nobody to blame but myself. I'd have liked to have taken at least one point, maybe two, but even that wasn't possible."
Petter Solberg said: "I'm delighted to get on the podium for the first time, especially on such a hard event as the Acropolis. We've had so much bad luck this year that I nearly cried with relief when I came out of the last stage!"
Technical: The sole remaining works 206 WRC of Harri Rovanperä was reliable today.
Sporting: Harri Rovanperä hoped to overhaul Petter Solberg for fourth today, and that aim was strengthened when Richard Burns dropped back down the leaderboard and promoted Solberg to third. But Rovanperä lost nearly 20 seconds to the Norwegian in this morning's second stage, and he had to settle for fourth overall.
Quotes: Harri Rovanperä said: "I'm quite happy with the result, which is as good as we could have hoped for. This morning I tried really hard, perhaps a bit too hard. It's been a hard rally for the Peugeot team and we've had a lot of bad luck recently, though, so it's just good to get to the finish and show that when the set-up is right, the 206 is competitive. This is the first really trouble-free run for the new evolution of the car. We have work to do before Kenya but hopefully we can get a good result there."
Technical: The two Mitsubishi Lancers of Tommi Mäkinen and Freddy Loix have performed reliably today, but the Belgian lost time in SS18 when an ATS mousse insert flew out of his right-front tyre. He had to stop and change a wheel, and lost nearly three minutes as a result.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen knew he had to hold off a charging François Delecour this morning, and despite feeling that his Michelin tyres were too hard a compound and construction, the four-times world champion did enough to achieve that. With Burns's and Sainz's problems, he eventually finished fourth. Freddy Loix was held up by Gilles Panizzi's dust when the private Peugeot driver broke his suspension, and he then had to stop and change a wheel in SS18 when a mousse insert flew out of the tyre after six kilometres. He finished ninth, scoring two manufacturers' points for Mitsubishi.
Quotes: Tommi Makinen said: "Our tyres were very hard and we did not have such good traction on this event, but at least we've come away with some points and I'm still at the top of the championship. We have work to do before Safari, which will be a big challenge for everybody."
Freddy Loix said: "I think our problem has been a little bit the tyres and a little bit the car here. Certainly on some stages the Pirelli runners seem to have had an advantage over the Michelin cars. We had some problems but at least we have seen the finish and got some points for Mitsubishi."
Technical: The sole remaining Xsara WRC of Philippe Bugalski has been reliable today. Bugalski's only moment of concern was a puncture in SS18.
Sporting: Philippe Bugalski concentrated on accumulating further gravel mileage in the Xsara WRC, but the Frenchman has been pleasantly surprised by his pace, particularly in the faster sections. He had little chance of improving or losing his position through pace alone, however - François Delecour and Armin Schwarz were a minute ahead and adrift respectively - so Bugalski maintained a steady pace to the finish. Sainz's, Burns's and Loix's dramas lifted him to sixth.
Quotes: Philippe Bugalski said: "I've been learning all the time on this rally, on every stage. Points weren't that important to me and Citroen can't score manufacturers points anyway, so I didn't take any big risks. I'm pleased to score one, though! I feel more comfortable with this car on gravel now, and I know the team has gained a lot of information. Obviously I would have liked Thomas (Rådström) to have finished as well but it's been a good rally for us anyway."
Technical: The two Skoda Octavia WRCs of Armin Schwarz and Bruno Thiry have been generally reliable today, as the Czech manufacturer brought both its cars to the finish for the second rough rally in succession.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz moved his Octavia into the top ten once Gilles Panizzi hit suspension problems on today's opening stage, and the German driver consolidated his placing to the finish. Team-mate Bruno Thiry lost time following Panizzi's dust in that first test, but otherwise the Belgian maintained his pace to finish just outside the top ten.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: "We can see where we've been losing the time - in the twisty stuff our pace is good but on the really fast open sections we've been losing a bit. It's just down to sheer horsepower. But at least we've proved again that the Octavia is a strong car - that gives us a good base to work from on our Safari test next week."
Bruno Thiry said: "It was impossible to see in Panizzi's dust on that stage. We had to stop at one point and then we could see this white car in the distance, and we knew what had happened. It has not been an easy event and perhaps there haven't been as many retirements as we all expected. But like Armin, I'm pleased with the strength of the Octavia and looking forward already to the Safari."
Technical: Alister McRae's Accent WRC2 enjoyed a relatively troublefree day, with only a puncture on this morning's second stage to worry the Scot, until the last stage when a broken driveshaft cost him some time.
Sporting: After his turbocharger problems and driveshaft difficulties over the opening two days, Alister McRae knew he had no chance of a points finish in Greece but the Scot drove on, setting respectable times as he worked his way back through the top 20. Another broken driveshaft cost him more time on the last stage.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: "Today's times prove what we've been saying all along - the potential was there for us to get close to, or in the points here, but the problems we had on days one and two ruined any chance of that. Of course I'm disappointed not to get a points finish, because the stages here suit our car much more than the next rally we're doing, Finland (Hyundai misses the Safari)."
There was a thrilling conclusion to the fight for maximum points in the FIA Teams Cup category for Privateers. Long-time leader Hamed Al Wahaibi retired yesterday evening with wheel damage, allowing Pasi Hagstrom to take over the lead in his Toyota. But the Finnish driver retired this morning when his car lost all of its water by the end of SS16. Abdullah Bakashab then assumed the lead, but the Saudi driver was closed down by Henrik Lundgaard during the last two stages and the Dane eventually took the honours. Gabriel Pozzo won the Group N category for more standard machinery, ahead of Gustavo Trelles.
In the FIA Super 1600 Cup, Sebastien Loeb backed up his Catalunya win with another category success this afternoon. The Citroen driver recovered from his earlier penalties to win by more than three minutes from Italian Fiat driver Andrea Dallavilla.
17/06/2001 RALLY STATISTICS
STARTERS: 64 cars (50 Group A + 14 Group N) restarted the rally
RETIREMENTS: Sainz (E), Burns (GB) + 14 non seeded drivers
TODAY: Sunday 17 June
Leg 3 started from Itea at 07h00 and covered 508.74km, including 126.37km on 7 special stages.
WEATHER FORECAST: Staying hot and dry
SS14 AMFIKLIA 1 (8.25km)
1 Burns (GB) Subaru 4m 49.6
2 McRae (GB) Ford 4m 51.6
3 Sainz (E) Ford 4m 52.4
LEADERS AFTER SS14
1 McRae (GB) Ford 2h 58m 13.7
2 Sainz (E) Ford 2h 58m 24.3
3 Burns (GB) Subaru 2h 58m 26.5
SS15 ELATIA-RENGINI 1 (38.69km)
1 Solberg (N) Subaru 25m 37.5
2 McRae (GB) Ford 25m 42.4
3 Delecour (F) Ford 25m 44.6
LEADERS AFTER SS15
1 McRae (GB) Ford 3h 23m 56.1
2 Sainz (E) Ford 3h 24m 10.9
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 3h 24m 53.9
SS16 LIVADIA 2 (11.66km)
1 Burns (GB) Subaru 9m 19.2
2 Sainz (E) Ford 9m 19.4
3 Rovanperä (FIN) Peugeot 9m 20.2
LEADERS AFTER SS16
1 McRae (GB) Ford 3h 33m 19.9
2 Sainz (E) Ford 3h 33m 30.3
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 2h 34m 15.3
SS17 STIRI 2 (3.70km)
1 Sainz (E) Ford 1m 55.6
2 Burns (GB) Subaru 1m 55.9
3 McRae (GB) Ford 1m 56.0
LEADERS AFTER SS17
1 McRae (GB) Ford 3h 35m 15.9
2 Sainz (E) Ford 3h 35m 25.9
3 Burns (GB) Subaru 2h 36m 12.5
SS18 GRAVIA 2 (17.13km)
1 Sainz (E) Ford 13m 03.2
2 Delecour (F) Ford 13m 05.5
3 McRae (GB) Ford 13m 05.7
LEADERS AFTER SS18
1 McRae (GB) Ford 3h 48m 21.6
2 Sainz (E) Ford 3h 48m 29.1
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 3h 49m 21.2
SS19 AMFIKLIA 2 (8.25km)
1 Sainz (E) Ford 4m 49.2
2 Delecour (F) Ford 4m 49.5
3 McRae (GB) Ford 4m 50.8
LEADERS AFTER SS19
1 McRae (GB) Ford 3h 53m 12.4
2 Sainz (E) Ford 3h 53m 18.3
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 3h 54m 13.9
SS20 ELATIA-RENGINI 2 (38.69km)
1 Mäkinen (FIN) Mitsubishi 25m 32.6
2 Delecour (F) Ford 25m 36.0
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 25m 37.0
LEADERS IN ITEA AFTER SS20
1 C. McRae (GB) Ford 4h 19m 01.9
2 Solberg (N) Subaru +49.0
3 Rovanperä (FIN) Peugeot +1m 35.7
4 Makinen (FIN) Mitsubishi +2m 15.3
5 Delecour (F) Ford +2m 35.4
6 Bugalski (F) Citroen +4m 00.2
7 Schwarz (D) Skoda +5m 56.7
8 Jean-Joseph (F) Peugeot +7m 27.1
9 Loix (B) Mitsubishi +8m 00.9
10 Thiry (B) Skoda +8m 35.7
GROUP N LEADERS AFTER SS20
1 Pozzo (RA) Mitsubishi 4h 40m 17.9
2 Trelles (ROU)Mitsubishi +56.7
3 Ligato (RA) Mitsubishi +8m 31.9
4 Baldacci (RA) Mitsubishi +14m 54.3
5 Hatzitsopanis (GR) Mitsubishi +14m 53.0
6 Drivakos (GR) Subaru +25m 15.1
SUPER 1600 LEADERS AFTER SS20
1 Loeb (F) Citroen 5h 00 51.9
2 Dallavilla (I) Fiat +2m 35.9
3 Stenshorne (N) Ford +10m 20.7
FINAL RALLY STATISTICS
The rally covered 1634.10km, including 387.63km on 20 special stages (including nine run twice). All stages were on gravel roads closed to the other traffic.
115 cars (89 Group A + 26 Group N) started the rally
47 cars (37 Group A + 10 Group N) finished the rally
Sainz (SS9-11-17-18-19) Burns (SS1-13-14-16) Delecour (SS7-8-10-12) Solberg (SS2-15) McRae (SS4-6) Martin (SS3) Mäkinen (SS20) SS5 was cancelled due to spectator congestion.
SS1 Burns SS2-SS5 Solberg SS6-SS20 McRae
FIA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (provisional standings after 7 of 14 rounds):
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers:
Mäkinen (FIN) & McRae (GB) 30, Sainz (E) 26, Burns (GB) 15, Rovanperä (FIN) 14, Delecour (F) 11, Auriol (F) 10, Solberg (N) 9, Loix (B) 7, Rådström (S) & Panizzi (F) 6, Gardemeister (FIN) 5, Grönholm 4, Schwarz (D) & Arai (J) 3, A. McRae (GB) & Hagstrom (FIN) & Bugalski (F) 1.
FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers:
Ford 60, Mitsubishi 53, Subaru 28, Peugeot 20, Skoda 11, Hyundai 10.
FIA World Cup for Drivers of Production Cars:
Pozzo (RA) 37, Trelles (ROU) 26, Stohl (A) 12, Gillet (CH) & Walfridsson (S) & Da Silva 10, Blomqvist (S) 8, others.
FIA Teams Cup (after 4 of 6 rounds):
Hagstrom (FIN) & Lundgaard (DK) 20, Bakhashab (SA) 15, Papadimitriou (GR) 8, Barratt (GB) 7, Blomqvist (GB) & Al Wahaibi (OM) 6, Heath (GB) 4.
FIA Super 1600 Cup (after 2 of 6 rounds):
Loeb (F) 20, Dallavilla (I) 8, Stenshorne (N) 7, Basso (I) 6, Fontana (I) 4, Robert (F) 3, Magaud (F) 2, Chemin (I) & Ceccato (I) 1.
[WRC] Acropolis Rally: End of Leg 2
Three of the world's top rally drivers are locked in battle for the lead of the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Acropolis Rally, which continued in Greece today. Colin McRae has held on to the lead he established yesterday, but both Carlos Sainz and Richard Burns narrowed the Scot's advantage during today's seven stages north of Itea.
Soaring temperatures and repeated use of some stages made conditions extremely tough for the crews and their cars, and several of the leading competitors hit trouble. Subaru's Markko Martin retired from his fifth position on the day's opening stage, while Hyundai driver Kenneth Eriksson failed to reach that test when his Accent suffered turbocharger failure.
Technical: The Focus RS WRC01s of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz have been generally reliable today. But François Delecour's example lost its power steering at the start of SS11.
Sporting: Colin McRae has managed to hold on to his lead of the Acropolis Rally today, but the 1995 World Champion's advantage has been wittled down by both Richard Burns and McRae's team-mate Carlos Sainz. Yet again, running first on the road did not help the leader, with McRae forced to sweep clear gravel in certain sections of four of today's stages. François Delecour reverted to Ford's recommended suspension after he evaluated some new-specification shock absorbers yesterday, and the Frenchman pronounced himself much happier with the car. He set several fastest times as he charged back into the top ten, although losing the power steering cost him vital seconds in SS11
Quotes: Colin McRae said: „It's been getting a bit uncomfortable with the two guys behind closing in, but there's nothing more we can do about it. We have no choice in the matter - we just have to push as hard as possible and see if that's enough. The middle three stages today were obviously a bit more slippery than we'd expected, because Carlos did a couple of exceptional times and took quite a bit from us.
François Delecour said: „My wrist is a bit better today and the car feels much better on this suspension. With our position on the road we've had a good chance to push and that's exactly what we've been doing.
Carlos Sainz said: „I haven't noticed much difference from yesterday because I'm running in the same position on the road anyway. There's no doubt that the stages are cleaning slightly the first time we go through them. It's turning into a close battle between the three of us.
Technical: Richard Burns reported no major problems with his Impreza WRC2001s today. But his team-mate Markko Martin was forced to retire on this morning's opening stage. The Estonian suffered a puncture and then a broken front upright, and with more than 20km of competition remaining before the next available service he had to withdraw. The other Impreza of Petter Solberg has been generally reliable, although he did bend the steering slightly in SS9 when he punctured a left front tyre.
Sporting: Subaru would have preferred Petter Solberg and Markko Martin to have started this morning's stages between the leading Fords and Richard Burns but their problems last night prevented this tactic. Burns was still able to use his road position to good effect, however, narrowing the deficit to leader Colin McRae throughout the day. Solberg concentrated on holding onto his fourth position, a task that became increasingly difficult as Harri Rovanperä closed on the young Norwegian.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: „Colin's been doing some really impressive times considering he's running first on the road. It's closing together quite nicely and if Carlos keeps up his pace, it helps me because it takes me closer to the lead without having to move another position forward on the road. The pace is quite hot - only François (Delecour) is able to match the times of the top three guys.
Petter Solberg said: „I'm still taking it quite steady, just trying not to make a mistake and get caught into a fight with Harri. The stages are so rough in places that I can see where things would break, and I'm avoiding the worst of that.
Technical: The sole remaining works 206 WRC of Harri Rovanperä continues to enjoy a relatively troublefree run, and the Swedish Rally winner has found the car much improved by a raft of changes to its suspension and transmission settings late yesterday afternoon.
Sporting: With his 206 WRC's handling restored, Harri Rovanperä began to charge this morning and it took only the first stage of the day for him to pass both Gilles Panizzi and Freddy Loix. The Finn also closed in on Petter Solberg's fourth-placed Subaru, although Rovanperä was at a lost to explain vital seconds lost during the shortest stage of the event, the 3.7km SS10. Gilles Panizzi's privately-run 206 WRC continues to hold a top ten placing, although the Frenchman has dropped time today as he struggled with car set-up.
Quotes: Harri Rovanperä said: „We're not even sure what's made the difference to the car's handling - we changed so much that it's hard to say. But it's certainly better and I feel confidence to push now. I don't know why I lost the time on the short stage - it was mainly uphill and maybe I made one mistake that cost me time the whole way. There's still a place to fight for and I'm going to try everything for sure.
Technical: Both Mitsubishi Lancers lost time with gearbox problems today. Freddy Loix's example jumped out of fifth and sixth gear in SS8, while Tommi Mäkinen's jumped out of the bottom three gears in SS7. Both gearboxes were changed at today's first full service. Loix later had to turn off parts of his Lancer's cooling system when a heavy landing on a rock pushed the car's radiator back into the turbocharger and the repair in the Service Area cost him 1m50" on road penalties.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen has not made up as much time as he would have liked today, but the four-times world champion could at least console himself with finishing the day just in a points-scoring position. Freddy Loix, meanwhile, first lost a place to Harri Rovanperä early this morning and then dropped to 11th place due to road penalties after SS12.
Quotes: Tommi Makinen said: „I'm wondering if the difference is our tyres, because with our road position we should be able to make up more time than this and François Delecour is setting even faster times than us further back. It's not possible for us to win from this situation but hopefully we can get some points.
Freddy Loix said: „It's been a hard day for me. I've had a few problems but even when I've had a clean run and thought I'd done a good time, the clock doesn't say the same.
Technical: After Thomas Rådström's retirement with electrical problems late yesterday evening, Citroen's efforts have been focused on the remaining Xsara WRC of Philippe Bugalski. The Frenchman's car has been reliable today.
Sporting: Philippe Bugalski inched into the top ten when Markko Martin retired this morning, and the multiple French champion has consolidated that position throughout the day. He was particularly pleased to set respectable times in the middle loop of three stages, since he'd conducted his recce of those tests when he was ill.
Quotes: Philippe Bugalski said: „The middle three stages were like new ones to me, because I was so ill when I did the recce there. So I thought my times were quite good. The car has been better today than yesterday - we've made some changes to the handling and it's not giving me the same understeer entering corners and oversteer exiting corners that it did earlier.
Technical: The two Skoda Octavia WRCs of Armin Schwarz and Bruno Thiry have been generally reliable today, although both drivers were less than happy at their suspension set-ups and tyre choices on this morning's first pair of stages.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz has continued to keep his Octavia just outside the top ten, but the German was unable to stop either the charging François Delecour or Philippe Bugalski this morning. Bruno Thiry's Octavia is two places further back in 13th, as the Belgian continues to fight with Simon Jean-Joseph's privately-run Peugeot.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: „Our tyres this morning had a very hard, rigid construction and we lost a lot of traction as a result. There was nothing we could do to keep Philippe or François behind.
Bruno Thiry said: „The car was hard to drive on today's first two stages but at least it's been basically reliable. We need a few more retirements tomorrow if we're going to score some points, but with the repeated stages anything is still possible. This rally still has a long way to go.
Technical: Kenneth Eriksson was forced to retire his Accent WRC2 on the road section from service to this morning's first stage, when the car suffered turbo failure. Alister McRae, meanwhile, broke a drive shaft in SS9. The flailing shaft caused hydraulic fluid to leak and start a small fire, and McRae stopped to removed the shaft, put out the fire and reconnect the hydraulic pipes. He then had to contest two further stages with only three-wheel drive.
Sporting: Kenneth Eriksson had hoped to gain data as Hyundai tries to solve the turbo problems that blighted its efforts yesterday, but the Swede was forced out before today's opening stage with another turbo failure. Alister McRae had moved towards the top ten but he then lost all hope of a top-ten finish when he broke a driveshaft.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: „We had turbo boost problems for a lot of yesterday and we wanted to check some data this morning, but on the road section we had another turbo failure so we had to stop. I'm disappointed because we showed in Cyprus that the car can be competitive, but our problems here haven't allowed us to repeat that form. All we can do is regroup and come back for Finland.
In the FIA Teams Cup for Privateers, Hamed Al Wahaibi lost his brakes on this morning's first stage and then dropped to third place after changing a wheel on SS12. One of his main rivals, Henrik Lundgaard, suffered another suspension problem this morning, resulting in a broken driveshaft. Pasi Hagstrom now leads, just less than a minute clear of Lundgaard, despite struggling with gear selection problems. The Group N class for more standard machinery is still led by Argentine driver Gabriel Pozzo, with Uruguay's Gustavo Trelles in second.
In the FIA Super 1600 Cup section, Sebastien Loeb took just two stages to move from his overnight third place in the category to the head of the leaderboard. Former leaders Benoit Rousselot and Alejandro Galanti retired today with suspension and gearbox problems respectively, and only eleven of the original 21 S1600 starters remain after SS12.
RESULTS AT END OF LEG 2
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 2:53:22.1
2 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 2:53:31.9
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:53:37.4
4 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 2:54:22.8
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 2:54:35.7
6 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 2:55:28.9
7 Delecour Ford Focus WRC 2:56:03.9
8 Bugalski Citroen Xsara WRC 2:56:23.4
9 Schwarz Skoda Octavia WRC 2:57:04.5
10 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 2:57:28.3
1 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer 3:08:17.9
2 Trelles Mitsubishi Lancer 3:09:06.5
3 Ligato Mitsubishi Lancer 3:13:11.8
1 Loeb Citroen Saxo 3:20:50.7
2 Dalavilla Fiat Punto 3:23:10.2
[WRC] Acropolis Rally: Introduction
Thursday 14th June
Baking hot conditions and fast, rough tracks are ready to test the world's top rally drivers on the seventh round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship, the Acropolis Rally, which starts from Athens this evening. After a ceremony at the foot of the Zappion in the capital later today, crews will head to the mountains north of Itea for six special stages tomorrow.
Current World Championship leader Tommi Mäkinen will be aiming to get his title bid back on track, after he retired from the last round in Cyprus two weeks ago. But historically, the Greek event has been one of the Finn's weaker events and it remains one of few rallies in the championship that he has yet to win. Furthermore, two of his close title rivals, Colin McRae and Richard Burns, have won the Acropolis on the last two occasions.
All of the regular title contenders could yet have a further problem on the Acropolis: Citroen, which dominated for much of its first WRC outing in Catalunya in March, is entering the Xsara WRC on its first gravel round of the series. While even team members suggest that outright victory is a long shot, many believe that Thomas Rådström's Xsara will be able to fight for drivers' points and thus have a potential effect on the series standings.
Ford (1st - 50 points)
Technical: Ford has made no substantial changes to the Focus RS WRC01 for this event, with only slight modifications made to the dampers to accommodate the higher average speeds on the Greek stages. François Delecour will use an older car, albeit completely rebuilt, while Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz will each have a brand new Focus.
Sporting: Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae are nominated for manufacturers' points, with François Delecour aiming for drivers' points only. The Frenchman has recently been confirmed as an entry for the Deutschland Rally, the German event in early July that has attracted a large number of manufacturer entries.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: „Things are looking good at the moment, and the car should be as competitive here as it was in Argentina and Cyprus. Pirelli has a good reputation on the Acropolis as well - we just need to make sure we capitalise on all of this. I think the first day will be the main thing - on the second and third the disadvantage with position on the road should be less, but tomorrow will be difficult.
Carlos Sainz said: „I expect to be some time behind the leaders at the end of tomorrow because of my position on the road. But then we still have two days to recover. We've got a good record here after last year and the car is clearly working well, but it's not good to get over confident. The team has been working very hard since Cyprus and I'm hopeful that we can get another one-two for Ford in Greece.
Mitsubishi (2nd - 47 points)
Technical: Mitsubishi's Lancers are essentially unchanged in technical specification from the cars used in Cyprus.
Sporting: Four-time world champion and current series leader Tommi Mäkinen will be supported by Belgian Freddy Loix in the second Lancer as usual. After running a third Lancer for Katsuhiko Taguchi in Cyprus Mitsubishi reverts to its usual two-car line-up, although Toni Gardemeister - who will drive a third Lancer in Finland - will be spectating in Greece.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: „I think the stages here are in some of the best condition I've ever seen them. They are very fast in places and not as rough as in previous years. That's not to say it won't be tough, of course. I'm not sure how much of a threat the Citroen will be here - probably not as big a problem as it was in Catalunya. They have experience of rally raids but this is a special stage rally and it's totally different.
Freddy Loix said: „It's so smooth now here that it's almost like a different rally. But the higher speeds will bring their own problems, because the tyres and cars will have to work harder in different ways. I just hope I can find a good pace and then see what happens. There are a lot of top World Rally Cars here but with a good clean run it should be possible to aim for the points.
Subaru (3rd - 22 points)
Technical: Subaru sends four Impreza WRC2001s to Greece, but the cars' technical specification is largely unchanged from the cars that tackled Cyprus a fortnight ago.
Sporting: Richard Burns and Petter Solberg are nominated to score manufacturers' points for Subaru in Argentina, with Japanese driver Toshihiro Arai and the returning Markko Martin nominated for drivers' points only.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: „The stages here are certainly smoother than they've been in recent years but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Tyre wear will still be a problem because even though it's smoother, it's still quite an aggressive surface. On some of the stages the roads have been regraded but they haven't quite settled, so even during the recce we were seeing ruts starting to form.
Markko Martin said: „It's good to be back. I've done quite a bit of testing but there's no substitute for experience and that's what I'm here for. I expect this to be tough - it's hard to gauge on these stages just how hard you can push without damaging the car or risking a puncture. But I'm looking forward to competing again.
Peugeot (4th - 20 points)
Technical: Peugeot again sends three of the 2001-specification 206 WRCs for Marcus Grönholm, Didier Auriol and Harri Rovanperä. The team's engineers are confident that the glitches that halted Marcus Grönholm and Didier Auriol in Cyprus will have been solved. Peugeot's two Finnish drivers will each use five-speed gearboxes in their cars, while Auriol will have a six-speed at his disposal.
Sporting: Marcus Grönholm and Didier Auriol are nominated for manufacturers' points, with Harri Rovanperä scoring drivers' points only. Peugeot's asphalt specialist Gilles Panizzi will also tackle the event, driving a 206 WRC run by private team Grifone.
Quotes: Marcus Grönholm said: „I think the stages here are in very good condition. Some of them will not be so nice when we're going over them for the second time, but from my recce all I can say is that they look very good indeed. I've had a lot of bad luck and retirements this year so I'm just wanting to get a good finish here - that would be a boost for me and for the team.
Hyundai (5th - 10 points)
Technical: Hyundai sends two Accent WRC2s to Greece, for regular drivers Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson. The team tested extensively last weekend in an attempt to eradicate the glitches that cost valuable time during the car's otherwise promising showing in Cyprus a fortnight ago.
Sporting: Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson drive the two Accents, with Piero Liatti not expected to re-appear for the team until Corsica later this season.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: „We did about 200km just before we started the recce for this rally and we had no major problems, so I'm optimistic that the team has sorted the problems we had in Cyprus. I certainly hope so - we've been showing over the last few rallies that if we get a clean run, there's the chance of a good result. All we can say, of course, is that the car felt very good in the test - we won't know how we compare to the others until the first stage tomorrow morning.
Skoda (6th - 7 points)
Technical: Skoda's two Octavia WRCs are unchanged in technical specification from the models that tackled the Cyprus Rally.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz and Bruno Thiry will drive the Czech manufacturer's two Octavia WRCs as usual.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: „Compared to last year's Acropolis the roads are much smoother this time, but I also think they'll cut up pretty badly so the second running of some stages will be hard on the cars and the drivers. The rally will long, hot and tough, so I'm optimistic that we can get a clean run and maybe look to get a point or two.
Bruno Thiry said: „The temperatures in Greece are high but there is better air circulation because the stages aren't as twisty. I'm sure it'll be a tough event for everyone but I think we can get a decent result here.
Technical: Citröen fields two Xsara WRCs on the car's first gravel outing in the World Rally Championship. Naturally, the cars differ substantially from the asphalt-specification Xsaras that led for so much of the Catalunya Rally in March.
Citröen has tested extensively in the Livadia area in an attempt to hone the cars to Greek gravel. At yesterday's shakedown, Thomas Rådström's car suffered a minor electrical problem during its first run but after servicing from the Citröen mechanics, he suffered no further difficulties. The two Xsaras are both equipped with air conditioning, a system designed to keep the drivers cool in the stifling Greek heat. Engineers reckon the system, last used by Citröen during the Baja Portugal Rally Raid in 1994, adds 15kg to the weight of the Xsara.
Sporting: Citröen calls up Thomas Rådström to team up with Philippe Bugalski in Greece. Bugalski wasn't able to celebrate his 38th birthday yesterday, as the multiple French champion was ill throughout the shakedown. He is expected to be fully fit by the time action commences tomorrow. Meanwhile, the FIA World Council decided yesterday that Citröen (which is only entering four WRC rounds this season) would not score points in the FIA World Championship for Manufacturers this year.
Quotes: Thomas Radstrom said: „The recce went very well for me, although it was sometimes hard to have two passes at slow speed. I don't think the FIA's decision means a big change. It's not that important for Citröen to be scoring points in 2001 anyway.
The Cyprus Rally is the second round of the inaugural FIA Super 1600 Cup, the cost-controlled series designed to introduce new talent to the World Championship. Citroen Saxo driver Sebastien Loeb dominated the first round in Catalunya, but with the front-wheel drive cars not allowed to run mousse anti-deflation systems in their tyres in Greece, the top crews here could well be the ones with the fewest punctures or mechanical problems.
The Acropolis is also a round of the FIA Teams Cup . Two of the contenders in that category will have cause to celebrate - Abdullah Bakashab is contesting his 25th world championship event, while former World Champion Stig Blomqvist is competing in his 100th.
Michelin supplies two types of tyre for the Acropolis - its ZB pattern is designed with rigid tread blocks to give better grip on aggressive stage surfaces, while the Z offers a more open tread pattern for slightly looser gravel. Pirelli brings three types of tyre to Greece. Ford has chosen the K and XR ranges, designed for essentially smooth and rocky surfaces respectively, while Subaru as opted for the X instead of the K. The X range is more suited to hard surfaces coated in loose dust and gravel.
All time GMT +3
Leg 1,Friday 15th June 523.68 km
SS1 10:13 Mendenitsa I 26.92 km
SS2 10:58 Paleohori 10.85 km
SS3 12:33 Inohori I 23.00 km
SS4 13:16 Pavliani I 24.45 km
SS5 16:00 Elatia 31.40 km
SS6 17:28 Mendenitsa II 26.92 km
Leg 2, Saturday 16th June 607.32 km
SS7 08:55 Pavliani II 24.45 km
SS8 10:23 Karoutes I 18.89 km
SS9 12:56 Livadia I 11.66 km
SS10 13:34 Stiri I 9.34 km
SS11 14:31 Gravia I 17.13 km
SS12 16:16 Inohori II 23.00 km
SS13 17:24 Karoutes II 18.89 km
Leg 3, Sunday 17th June 514.38 km
SS14 08:33 Amfiklia I 8.25 km
SS15 09:06 Elatia-Rengini I 38.69 km
SS16 12:04 Livadia II 11.66 km
SS17 12:42 Stiri II 9.34 km
SS18 13:39 Gravia II 17.13 km
SS19 15:07 Amfiklia II 8.25 km
SS20 15:40 Elatia-Rengini II 38.69 km