Citroen privateer Petter Solberg got his Acropolis Rally off to the perfect start this morning, winning both stages to build a 20.3 second lead.
Solberg, who was second quickest in the pre-event shakedown yesterday, edged out Jari-Matti Latvala by just 0.5 seconds in the opening stage, the 23.60 kilometre-run through Thiva 1.
In SS2 however, the 39.10 km Elatia test, he beat the Finn by a massive 19.8 seconds and he now heads into the mid-day RSZ (remote service zone) with a very nice cushion.
“So far, so good,” said the 2003 World Rally champion. “I am in the lead and I don't have problems - things are working out well. I will try to keep the same pace but in the next stage I must not push too much. It is going to be hard.”
Latvala, who was second best in both stages, was happy with his performance in Thiva, but less pleased with how things went in Elatia: “The opening stage went well and I quickly found a good feeling with the car, despite a couple of small mistakes,” said Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man. “I was confident going into the next test but I couldn't find the same kind of rhythm.
“The last time I drove those roads was in 2003 and I couldn't remember them. It was a hard stage to recce and perhaps my pace notes were too hesitant. It's a good start though and this afternoon I'll try to maintain the same level of speed.
"The heat inside the cockpit wasn't too bad. On several occasions rocks hit the underside of the car. I need to raise the car's ride height, but I don't want to lose traction so the key is to find a compromise,” he added.
Mikko Hirvonen is next up in the sister 'works' Fiesta RS WRC car, 6.2 seconds adrift, after posting the fifth best time in SS1 and the third best in SS2.
“I'm happy with the morning,” he insisted. “My aim today is to stay in contact at the front and make sure nobody breaks clear so that I'm in a good position for tomorrow. I hit a bank near the end of the first stage and was worried I may have punctured a tyre, but it was fine.