If there is one rally that tests the strength and reliability of World Rally Cars to the utmost, it is Greece.

The Acropolis Rally is characterised by searing heat, enormous rocks, and rutted roads: a perfect recipe for mechanical torture. But both Skoda Motorsport drivers feel confident heading into the sixth round of the World Rally Championship [June 5 - 8].

Historically, the Skoda Octavia WRC has been at its best on demanding rough-surface rallies like the Acropolis, and the team is in a good position to display the Octavia WRC's talents once more.

Skoda Motorsport has scored points on every World Championship rally so far this year, proving the Octavia WRC's reliability beyond doubt. The team also has a strong record in Greece, achieving a fifth place overall in recent years.

Didier Auriol, World Rally Champion in 1994, said: "The Acropolis is a rally that could be good for us. It's a lot more difficult - and a lot faster - than most people think, and you also need luck on your side. The rally is well-known for its big rocks along the route - you have to try and avoid the biggest ones but inevitably there are others which you will run over. That's why a strong car is vital and I think we have that in the Skoda Octavia WRC."

Auriol recently notched up his best result for Skoda Motorsport to date - sixth overall on the Rally Argentina - and he hopes to repeat that in Greece.

"Argentina showed what you can achieve if you drive quickly but concentrate on keeping out of trouble," he said. "We are not going to be in a position to win the Acropolis, but we know that the end result will strongly depend on cautious driving and reliability of the car."

Toni Gardemeister from Finland is hoping to continue his run of brilliant form this season, which has seen him string together a series of top-10 finishes.

"I think I'm driving better than I've ever done," said Gardemeister. "I have a very good feeling with the car and the team. The Acropolis is never an easy rally, but I will use the same tactic that has worked well for me so far this year - flat-out! It will be important to find a good suspension set-up to ride all the bumps, so we will be working hard on that during the official shakedown."

This year's Acropolis Rally has a new base: the industrial town of Lamia, about an hour's drive west of the Greek capital Athens. The stages though are the same as those used in recent years, and every bit as demanding. The route runs through countryside that is steeped in literary history and mythology: nearby is the town of Delphi, home to the fortune-telling Oracle of Greek legend.

Not even the all-seeing Oracle could predict the outcome of this weekend's rally, however. A number of unknown elements combine to make the Acropolis one of the most intriguing events of the year. Skoda Auto Director of Motorsport Peter Kohoutek commented: "We have a long history of success and we're hoping to continue that. We have tested extensively on Greek roads in the past and we should be able to showcase the abilities of our drivers and cars to the maximum."

The Acropolis Rally which celebrates its 50th anniversary gets underway with a ceremonial start in Athens on Thursday night [5 June]. The finish takes place in Lamia on Sunday afternoon [8 June] after 22 special stages.