Citroen's Sebastien Ogier
has taken the lead on the Acropolis Rally this afternoon and he now has a 15.1 second cushion at the head of the pack.
Ogier stormed through this morning's opening loop, winning all three stages to haul himself up to second and in the processing slashing Petter Solberg's overnight advantage from 51.6 seconds to just 5.4 going into the mid-day halt. On the repeat run this afternoon the Frenchman kept pushing and immediately went into the lead in SS10, before extending his lead in SS11 and SS12, where he took his fourth stage victory of the day.
Competitors now head back to service, before venturing out again for the SS13 - a night time-run through the 17.71 kilometre Nea Politia stage, which will bring the second leg to a close.
“It's okay. We tried very hard on this one,” Ogier told the official WRC site after SS12. “The time is not bad. We will have to push on the last stage as well because the gap is not enough.”
Sebastien Loeb meanwhile is now second, 15.1 seconds off P1 and 7.5 seconds up on Petter, who has slipped down to third: “I pushed to maximum this afternoon,” Loeb revealed, “we will see what happens in the next stage now...”
“It was very loose,” Solberg added. “I am pushing very, very hard. I can't push more. I don't want to lose too much to Ogier for tomorrow. I am looking forward to the night stage.”
Mikko Hirvonen is fourth, 12.8 seconds off the final place on the podium, and convinced he is still in with an outside chance of winning: “There is still a small chance to catch the boys,” he confirmed after SS12. “I do want to fight and I have to go for that.”
Further back Henning Solberg
is a distance fifth, followed by his M-Sport Stobart
team-mate, Matt Wilson and F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen in sixth and seventh respectively. SWRC class leader Juho Hanninen rounds out the top eight, 3 minutes up on closest class rival, Bernardo Sousa, with Dennis Kuipers tenth ahead of Frigyes Turan and the luckless Jari-Matti Latvala.
The final test of the leg now starts at 21.33 hours local time [19.33 hours British time] – and the big question is: Will anyone go slow in order to get a better road position for the final day?
Stay tuned to find out...Acropolis Rally: Overall standings after Stage 12 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3hours 07mins 16.1secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 15.1secs
3. Petter Solberg
DS3 WRC +00mins 22.6secs
4. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 35.4secs
5. Henning Solberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 36.0secs
6. Matthew Wilson
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 14.8secs
7. Kimi Raikkonen
ICE1 Racing Citroen
DS3 WRC +06mins 34.3secs
8. Juho Hanninen
Red Bull Skoda Fabia S2000 +08mins 33.6secs
9. Bernardo Sousa
Ford Fiesta S2000 +11mins 40.3secs
10. Dennis Kuipers
FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS +12mins 00.4secs
11. Frigyes Turan
Ford Fiesta S2000 +13mins 01.2secs
12. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +13mins 36.7secs
13. Hermann Gassner Jr.
Skoda Fabia S2000 +14mins 36.2secs
14. Mads Ostberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16mins 27.8secs
MSWRC standings after Stage 12 (Top 3):
1. Juho Hanninen
Red Bull Skoda Fabia S2000 3hours 15mins 49.9secs
2. Bernardo Sousa
Ford Fiesta S2000 +03mins 06.7secs
3. Frigyes Turan
Ford Fiesta S2000 +04mins 27.6secs
SS2. Evgeny Novikov
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Suspension
SS3. Peter van Merksteijn Jr
Van Merksteijn Citroen
DS3 WRC Off road.
SS4. Mads Ostberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Off road.
SS5. Daniel Oliveira
Brazil WRT Mini John Cooper Works Stopped in stage
SS6. Federico Villagra
Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Front car damage
SS7. Ott Tanak
Ford Fiesta S2000 Off road
* denotes re-started under SupeRallyall times unofficial