Fresh from his best result to date in the World Rally Championship in Sardinia, Evgeny Novikov warmed up for this weekend's Acropolis Rally by setting the pace during the shakedown session in Greece.
The Citroen Junior Team driver took an impressive fifth place in Italy and was the man to beat during shakedown, held on a rough gravel road close to the service park in Loutraki.
The Russian driver completed five runs through the stage at the wheel of his C4 WRC and posted a quickest time of 2min 19.8secs to finish ahead of Sebastien Loeb.
“The stage was good, but as the cars were passing, it became quite rough,” he said. “I tried different car set-ups.”
Behind Loeb, Federico Villagra was third quickest for the Munchi's Ford team, while Mikko Hirvonen, Matthew Wilson and Sardinian winner Jari-Matti Latvala rounded out the top six.
Dani Sordo, Petter Solberg, Sebastien Ogier and Henning Solberg rounded out the top ten – the latter having been forced to use one run through the stage to make pacenotes after an issue during the recce.
“In the first passage we were writing the stage, because we didn't have notes, due to a problem with the recce car yesterday,” he said. “I am satisfied with the car; the SS was OK. I tried some suspension adjustments, towards a softer setup.”
Shakedown times – Acropolis Rally:
1. Evgeny Novikov
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC 02mins 19.8secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 02mins 20.1secs
3. Federico Villagra
Munchi's Ford Focus WRC 02mins 20.2secs
4. Mikko Hirvonen
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 02mins 20.4secs
5. Matthew Wilson
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC 02mins 20.6secs
6. Jari-Matti Latvala
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 02mins 20.8secs
7. Dani Sordo
Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 02mins 21.2secs
8. Petter Solberg
PS WRT Citroen Xsara WRC 02mins 22.3secs
9. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC 02mins 22.3secs
10. Henning Solberg
Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC 02mins 22.6secs
11. Mads Ostberg
Adapta Subaru Impreza WRC2008 02mins 23.0secs
12. Conrad Rautenbach
Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC 02mins 26.5secs
13. Khalid Al-Qassimi
BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 02mins 26.5secs