Jari-Matti Latvala has continued the strong form he showed in Sardinia to take the early lead of Rally Acropolis following the opening morning in Greece.
Benefitting from a better road position than his rivals, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi driver came through the opening two tests – SS3 having been cancelled prior to the event – to head to the remote service in Itea with a lead of 7.8secs over Citroen's Dani Sordo.
Latvala started the day with the quickest time through the opening test, and was then second quickest on stage two to secure the early advantage.
“It is going okay, we have a good feeling driving the car,” he said. “Dani was also pushing hard, but I am satisfied. I don't want to take big risks so as not to make mistakes.”
Sordo had sat in fourth place after the opening stages, but was then quickest through the first run of the Thiva stage to jump up to second place as he heads the Citroen challenge.
“I believe I drove very well,” he said. “I am happy with the car and everything is okay. The gravel is very good.
“Our starting position is good, but Latvala is faster.”
Mikko Hirvonen lies third, but admitted that his time on stage two was 'a bad time' as he looks to open an advantage over Sebastien Loeb – who has been faced with the prospect of sweeping the road for the cars behind. The Frenchman was eighth quickest on stage one, although he moved up to fifth after stage two, with the Adapta Subaru of Mads Ostberg splitting Hirvonen and Loeb on the times.
“Difficult job this morning,” Loeb conceded. “I'm trying really hard and we will have to wait and see. I cannot do anything more.”
Citroen Junior pair Evgeny Novikov and Sebastien Ogier sit sixth and seventh despite both drivers overshooting a junction during the morning to drop time. Henning Solberg holds the final points scoring position in eighth, although Stobart VK M-Sport team-mate Matthew Wilson became the first major retirement of the event when he was forced to stop in stage two after losing oil pressure.
Petter Solberg had started the event with the third quickest time on stage one, but then lost time on stage two with what emerged to be a steering problem, with a bolt having gone missing from the front-right of the car. As a result, he lies down in ninth, with Conrad Rautenbach completing the top ten.
In the PWRC, guest driver Lambros Athanassoulas leads the way at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia S2000, with the opening two stages suggesting that the Production battle could surpass Rally Sardinia in terms of drama.
Armindo Araujo had been quickest on stage one but slipped back to fourth place on stage two, with Patrik Sandell and Nasser Al-Attiyah also battling ahead to lie second and third. Toshi Arai sits fifth but is within 4.4secs of the lead.