27 May 2012
Loeb set for victory, Solberg out
Sebastien Loeb completes SS19 with a commanding 2 minute 1.2 second cushion over Mikko Hirvonen; Jari-Matti Latvala lies third; Petter Solberg retires in SS18 while on a charge...
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb looks set to win the Acropolis Rally of Greece, after Petter Solberg crashed out in the opening stage this morning.
Loeb had seen his lead halved on Saturday afternoon, with Solberg winning the three final stages to cut the Frenchman's lead to just 10.2 seconds going into the final day. Petter was keen to keep up the pressure this morning and was on charge in Aghii 1 when he hit a tree around 13 kilometres in and ripped off the left-rear wheel. Although Solberg and co-driver Chris Patterson were unhurt, they were not able to continue. That has left Loeb with a commanding lead and with three stages to go he is just over 2 minutes up on his Citroen team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen.
“After what happened to Petter, it was difficult for me to keep my concentration,” Loeb conceded. “At the moment we have done a perfect race - pushing hard and making no mistakes.”
“Three more stages to go. We will see what happens. We continue quite steady. I am surprised to be second, but I am happy with that,” Hirvonen added.
Jari-Matti Latvala is next up and on course for the final spot on the rostrum in his works Ford Fiesta RS WRC, albeit more than 2.5 minutes adrift of second following his puncture in SS14 on Saturday.
“Now that Petter is out there is no point taking risks,” Latvala remarked. “We need the points and we need to get to the finish. We are driving very carefully.”
Behind, Mads Ostberg and Martin Prokop complete the top-five, followed by Thierry Neuville, Sebastien Ogier, Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Ott Tanak and Abdulaziz Alkuwari in positions 6 through to 10.
In terms of retirements, in addition to Solberg, SS18 also saw a number of other drivers forced out, including Rally 2 runners Evgeny Novikov and Nasser Al-Attiyah, the latter rolling his Citroen DS3 WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen had problems in that test too, damaging the left-rear wheel on his Skoda Fabia S2000 and retiring after the stage.
As for the PWRC, Nicolas Fuchs continues to lead, with Valeriy Gorban second, 4 minutes 40 seconds back.
The Acropolis Rally now continues at 11.57 hours local time [09.57 hours UK time], with a second run through both Aghii and New Pissia. The event then ends with a run through the 3.97 km Power Stage.
Acropolis Rally: Overall standings after Stage 19 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 4hours 17mins 09.6secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 01.2secs M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 46.8secs M
4. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +07mins 52.1secs
5. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08mins 50.2secs
6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +11mins 08.9secs M
7. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +13mins 20.3secs
8. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RCC +20mins 21.4secs
9. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +24mins 50.5secs M
10. Abdulaziz Alkuwari Seashore Qatar WRT MINI John Cooper Works WRC +27mins 26.5secs
11. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +30mins 39.2secs
12. Spyros Pavildes Autotek Ford Fiesta RS WRC +33mins 06.7secs
13. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +34mins 27.2secs P
14. Yuriy Protasov Subaru Impreza WRX STi +37mins 23.8secs
15. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +04mins 36.8secs P
16. Subhan Aksa Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +41mins 41.4secs P
17. Ricardo Trivino Subaru Impreza WRX STi +45mins 29.2secs P
18. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +58mins 20.5secs
PWRC standings after Stage 19 - Top 3:
1. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 4hours 51mins 36.8secs P
2. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +04mins 40.0secs P
3. Subhan Aksa Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +07mins 14.2secs P
WRC Academy standings after Stage 13#:
1. Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta RS 3hours 46mins 35.5secs A
2. Alastair Fisher Ford Fiesta R2 +02mins 15.9secs A
3. Brendan Reeves Ford Fiesta R2 +02mins 32.2secs A
4. John MacCrone Ford Fiesta R2 +03mins 19.1secs A
5. Jose Suarez Ford Fiesta R2 +03mins 25.9secs A
6. Chris Duplessis Ford Fiesta R2 +09mins 21.4secs A
7. Timo van der Marel Ford Fiesta R2 +21mins 22.7secs A
# WRC Academy event ended after SS13
SS3. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Retired from leg – driver ill M*
SS7/SS8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off road M*
SS10. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Suspension*
SS12/SS13. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical M
SS14/SS15. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC Mechanical M
SS15. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Lost a wheel*
SS16. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Mechanical*
SS18 Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off M
SS18. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Stopped in stage M
SS18. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped in stage M
SS18. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC Rolled M
SS18/SS19. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Broken wheel
* denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial
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