Citroen ace Sebastien Ogier
took a strategic win in Greece today to reignite his championship hopes.
Ogier, who eventually won the Acropolis Rally by 10.5 seconds, opted to play tactics in the final stage on Friday, easing off in the final test to ensure he started day two fourth on the road. That decision left Petter Solberg
more than 50 seconds out front, but Ogier put in a charge on Saturday and took advantage of the cleaner and faster line to slash the gap to just 5.4 seconds following the morning loop.
In the afternoon the Frenchman then powered ahead and built a 15.1 second cushion over his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb, before then slipping back to second in the day's final test, SS13 - the night time run through Nea Politia.
At the start of Sunday, Ogier was 2.2 seconds behind Loeb, but running second in the order he had the better road position again and he eventually pulled out a 10.5 second cushion on the repeat-run through Aghii Theodori 2 and New Pissia 2. Going into the Power Stage he had the victory pretty much in the bag and unlike in Argentina last time out, he didn't disappoint.
Indeed he swept through to not only take the 25 points for the win, but also the maximum 3 points for the Power Stage. The result sees him close up on Sebastien Loeb
and Mikko Hirvonen
in the drivers' title race, and he is now just 5 points off Mikko in P2 and 22 off Loeb – down from 30 points prior to this weekend's seventh round in the 2011 World Rally Championship.
“It was a very good rally for me and this has been a perfect weekend,” Ogier said. "At the beginning it was difficult to find the rhythm. Yesterday in the second loop we drove fast, we pushed and now we have a great result.
“Two times this weekend we slowed down. Tactics is part of rallying however and the differences between the drivers are so close that you have to look for every chance. It is good to put the disappointment of Argentina behind me. The championship is still possible.”
Loeb meanwhile was reasonably content with the runners-up spot, although he felt he had been hindered having to play the 'road sweeper' on days one and three. Despite that though, he still increases his lead in the drivers' championship, extending his margin over Hirvonen from 13 points to 17.
“It's been a great battle. It was frustrating not to win though because I think we were the fastest on this rally,” Loeb said. “We cleaned the road for two days: on the first and third days and for sure this was a disadvantage.”
Mikko Hirvonen completed the podium for the Ford Abu Dhabi Word Rally Team, overhauling Petter Solberg
in the very first test this morning. He then proceeded to pull away and finished 25.3 seconds up on the Norwegian – and only 3 seconds behind Loeb in P2.