Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb came through to take the laurels on the Acropolis Rally of Greece this weekend, easily one of the toughest editions for a good few years.

Loeb had to wait until the repeat loop on Friday to grab P1, as early on he was left trailing BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala. Going into the second loop on day one, Seb was 4.2 seconds behind Jari, but he immediately took over at the top, when the Finn was slowed by a puncture - one of many that would afflict the field over the three-days.

Then thanks to three quickest times in succession and a third best effort in the short super special Seb built up a solid advantage, ending day one 15.7 seconds up on his team-mate, Dani Sordo.

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Day two however turned out to be extremely difficult and a number of drivers' had costly problems, including Loeb, who lost the lead in SS9, when he conceded 30 odd seconds thanks to a left rear puncture.

In the afternoon, however, the pendulum swung the other way and with Sordo having tyre problems of his own, Loeb was bumped back up into the lead, regaining top spot in SS12 and then concluding the leg 28.7 seconds up on his closest rival.

After almost doubling his advantage on the first stage on Sunday, Seb could afford to ease off through the remaining tests and he eventually won by just over a minute, pacing himself through the final six tests.

The result puts him back in the lead in the drivers' championship - albeit by just a single solitary point.

"I am happy to be in this position. The rally was very difficult and rough," reflected Loeb, who had only ever won in Greece once before.

"Now we will see have to see what happens in the championship. This year the Acropolis was tougher than last year. We had to save the tyres and today we had to go slow in some places."

Petter Solberg meanwhile took the runners-up spot, a remarkable result for Subaru considering this was the first competitive outing with the all-new Impreza WRC2008, which was officially 'launched' the day before the ceremonial start.

Petter didn't get the place through sheer attrition either - although granted a number of drivers' did fall victim to the Greek event, which is regarded as a real car wreaker. Indeed 'Hollywood' set a number of very competitive times, including 10 top-five times on the opening two days, before easing off on day three to make sure he got to the end.

The result was especially welcome for the Norwegian, who has had a difficult season and who was last on the rostrum twelve months ago on this very event.

"The car has been working with no problems. It has huge potential but we are not there yet," noted Petter. "We are getting better and better. Second place is a bonus. I think all the team has been working hard and must be proud now. It has been a tough event."

Mikko Hirvonen was next up, 46.6 seconds further back, having inherited third on the final day when Henning Solberg had engine problems. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi team leader had a difficult round, losing time in the final stage on day 1 with suspension problems when he hit a rock and again damaging his suspension on Saturday morning.

As such he was delighted to only concede four points to Loeb in the race for the 2008 drivers' title and while it does drop him to second, on the plus side he won't have to run first on the road in Turkey in two weeks time.

"It has been very rough with so many problems. I am glad we made it to third position. It was the roughest Acropolis I have ever competed in," said the 27-year-old.

Further down the order Urmo Aava was a very good fourth in his privately entered C4 WRC. The Estonian like most of the runners had his problems and he lost considerable time with a puncture on Saturday morning.

He fought back though and throughout the event set some notable times, including winning SS7, the short run through the super special and more significantly the 16.60 kilometre Pissia 2 test - SS12.

"I am very happy," said Aava. "We are finally getting to know the car better. Citroen Sport helped us a lot with the set-up and now we have a very good car. I am looking forward to Turkey which is a similar rally, only slower."

Dani Sordo trailed Aava home, 30 seconds further back and nearly 5 minutes off Loeb. The Spaniard could have possibly won the event but for those tyre issues on Saturday afternoon.

He ended the event on a small high, by setting the pace in the last stage and was philosophical about missing out on what could have been his maiden win in the WRC.

"It has been a very good rally. It was very hard for the tyres. The car was good. Today was better for us, but our bad luck dropped us to the sixth place. That's life," he noted.

Britain's Matthew Wilson came in sixth, his only real problem in SS3 when a broken prop-shaft cost him around 45 seconds. It was his third points' finish of the season and in total he managed twelve top-ten times.

"It was very rough compared to last year's event and very difficult for the cars. For us, everything went OK, we had no major problems. I am satisfied to have survived from this rally, it has been tough," said the Stobart Man. "This is my first point finish in Greece and I am glad about it."

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala was seventh, the Finn losing time in the final stage on day one, like Hirvonen, with suspension damage, and while he tried to fight back turbo problems on Saturday afternoon cost him eight minutes.

"Our speed was OK, but the result was not what I expected at the beginning of the rally," he admitted. "We faced problems on Friday and yesterday. I also made a mistake at the shakedown. It has been tough. In general, I like the Acropolis Rally, but this year it was too rough."

Henning Solberg rounded out the points' scorers in eighth and the Norwegian was none-to-pleased to see his podium hopes vanish at the end due to an electrical problem.

"I'm very disappointed with dropping those places today after working so hard throughout the rally," he noted. "We concentrated on taking care of the car and preserving the tyres but still managed to put in some good times and I was delighted last night to have reached third position. But these things happen and although I am not very happy we will go to Turkey with a good feeling."

Of the rest Suzuki duo Toni Gardemeister and Per-Gunnar Andersson finished ninth and eleventh, sandwiching the C4 WRC of Conrad Rautenbach. While both SX4 WRC had issues and P-G only finished having re-started under the SupeRally, they both claimed manufacturers' points for the Japanese manufacturer and gave the team its first 1-2 finish.

Khalid Al-Qassimi and Federico Villagra were the only other 'works' drivers to finish, in twelfth and thirteenth, the latter had been looking good to get more points for the Munchi's squad until he was forced out with suspension problems in SS11 on day two.

In the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship Andreas Aigner took his second win on the trot, having moved up into P1 on day two. Despite a differential problem this morning, the Austrian kept his nerve and eventually beat Martin Rauam by 35 seconds.

Aigner's team-mate Bernarndo Sousa was third in the sister Red Bull Rally Team-run Mitsubishi Lancer, another 25 seconds further back, while Armindo Araujo and Fumio Nutahara completed the top five also in Lancers.

In terms of retirements a number of drivers failed to finish, including Stobart Ford's Gigi Galli, Subaru's Chris Atkinson and Munchi's 'guest' driver, Aris Vovos.

Galli retired on days 1, 2 and 3 but still managed to set four quickest times and pick up the inaugural 'Colin McRae Trophy'. Atkinson retired first on day 2 with an electrical problem, before exciting again on Sunday when he damaged his suspension. Vovos was sidelined on Saturday with with steering problems. The local star had been competing under the Munchi's banner, and was 12th overall when he went out.

Several PWRC runners failed to finish too, including double Production champion, Toshi Arai, as well as Nasser Al-Attiyah, Jari Ketomaa, Mirco Baldacci and Patrik Sandell and many more.

The World Rally Championship now heads to Turkey in two weeks time for the final round before the summer break. The Rally of Turkey is another hot, rough gravel event based in Kemer and it runs from June 12-15.