25 May 2012
Loeb builds lead on Acropolis
Sebastien Loeb stretches his lead on the Acropolis over Jari-Matti Latvala to 10.1 seconds; Mikko Hirvonen re-takes third as Petter Solberg slips back to fourth...
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has increased his lead on the Acropolis Rally of Greece following the middle loop.
Loeb, who began the afternoon 1.2 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latvala, was second fastest in SS5, 1.1 seconds behind his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, who set the pace in the sister works DS3 WRC car. The Frenchman then went quickest in SS6, increasing his lead from 5.7 seconds to 10.1 going into the second remote service zone in Itea.
“It [10.1 seconds] is not much, but it's unusual for there to be big gaps when everyone is driving at very high speeds,” Loeb stated. “It's true, there was a lot of mud on SS6, but we chose the right option in keeping the hard tyres.”
Latvala, who was fourth in SS5 and third in SS6, was less confident in the muddy conditions of Bauxites 1 and Drossohori: “It was surprisingly damp and I didn't have enough traction,” he explained. “The tyres didn't warm up quickly enough at the start of the stage and the car understeered. Once they had heated up then I was able to pull time back. I'll change the set-up now to better suit the conditions.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile is up to third, and he reported he was much happier with his DS3 WRC: “I felt much better on these two stages,” said the Finn. “I didn't make any mistakes and I'm glad to have turned my good form into a stage win. I thought I'd done a little better on SS6, which means I should have driven differently on this very muddy stage. It's good to be close to the Fiestas – the fight goes on!”
Petter Solberg is now fourth having lost time in the final section of Drossohori after his car's underbody struck a rock in a compression following a crest. The impact damaged the rear left wheel rim and punctured the tyre.
“It was a huge shock,” Solberg admitted. “The impact threw the car into the air and I was lucky to keep it on the road. The incident cost about 10sec because of the puncture, but this is a long rally and it's still wide open.”
Behind, Evgeny Novikov continues to run fifth, albeit now more than a minute back, followed by Mads Ostberg, Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville, Martin Prokop and Sebastien Ogier in positions six through to 10.
In the support categories, Valeriy Gorban and Elfyn Evans both remain out front respectively in the PWRC and the WRC Academy.
The leg now concludes with another loop of three stages, before competitors head back to Loutraki for the overnight service.
Acropolis Rally: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 30mins 05.3secs M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 10.1secs M
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 15.0secs M
4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 16.8secs M
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 15.6secs M
6. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 20.6secs
7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 05.1secs M
8. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 14.0secs M
9. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 15.8secs
10. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +03mins 28.8secs
11. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +03mins 31.0secs M
12. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +04mins 22.7secs
13. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +06mins 29.3secs
17. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +09mins 33.0secs P
18. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +10mins 07.9secs P
19. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +10mins 14.5secs
PWRC standings after Stage 6 – Top 3:
1. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hour 39mins 38.3secs P
2. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +00mins 34.9secs P
3. Subhan Aksa Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +02mins 48.9secs P
SS3. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Retired from leg – co-driver ill M
all times unofficial
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