24 June 2005
Loeb seizes Acropolis lead.
Harri Rovanpera is sixth for Mitsubishi, while Henning Solberg and Gigi Galli round out the provisional points' scorers, the latter just over 10 seconds in front of Markko Martin, who is ninth.
"I don't really understand today," said Martin. "The car seemed difficult to drive; maybe my choice of tyres was not the best for the afternoon's loop of stages. Tomorrow I will go back to the tyre choice we had this morning, which seemed to work better for us."
Of the other 'works' drivers, Petter Solberg's day has gone from bad to worse, an off in SS2 this morning slowed the Norweigan as he lost the boot lid and rear spoiler. This afternoon a broken left-rear drive-shaft in SS5 limited him to three-wheel drive and as a result he has plummeted down the leader-board. He now lies 14th overall behind Tobias Johansson, Kristian Sohlberg, Jani Paasonen and Xavier Pons.
"We've had such bad luck today and so many things have gone against us," said 'Hollywood'. "Everything that we'd planned went completely wrong and I'm very disappointed. Damaging the driveshaft at such a critical part of the day, with three stages ahead, left me no opportunity to fight. It's very hard to accept, but that's just how it is."
Solberg's team-mates' - Chris Atkinson and Stephane Sarrazin also had a dismal day. Sarrazin suffered two punctures in the space of two tests this afternoon and after damaging his suspension had to retire from the leg in SS6. Sarrazin will re-start tomorrow Atkinson however won't, after he had engine problems in SS6.
"I came out of a corner with about a kilometre to go when the engine made some horrible noises and lost power," explained the Aussie. "To put it simply, there is a hole where there shouldn't be a hole. It is obviously very disappointing for the rally finish the way in which it did. I will now turn my focus on getting a solid overall result in the Argentina next month."
Skoda were another team to suffer and SS3 brought a double blow, when both drivers' nominated to score manufacturers' points went out - Armin Schwarz with engine problems and Janne Tuohino with clutch woes. Paasonen remains the sole Fabia still competing in twelfth.
"Although I am disappointed that we lost two cars today Janne's pace was within the top seven or eight places before he hit the rock and Jani's performance is solid so far," said Skoda team manager, Joan Sureda. "We have repaired Armin's car and he will return for tomorrow. We will not continue in the rally with Janne as the engine was new for this event. For the same reasons that we pulled Armin out of Turkey we will do the same with Janne and save the engine for another rally."
The final 'works' retirement from the leg was Roman Kresta, the Czech's day ending on the opening test this morning with a broken steering arm.
"It happened at a left-right corner, the same bend as Toni had a problem. I turned into the right bend over a dip and the car slid into the bank on the left, breaking the steering," explained Kresta. "I'm really disappointed because [team boss] Malcolm [Wilson] had told me I could drive flat out and I was looking forward to the weekend."
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