Acropolis Rally: Novikov grabs shock lead as frontrunners hit trouble
|Friday, May 31st 2013, 16:30 GMT|
Evgeny Novikov emerged as a shock Acropolis Rally leader as Sebastien Ogier, Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg all hit trouble on the opening stage.
The 47-kilometre Kineta-Pissia stage claimed high-profile victims from the outset, including World Rally Championship points leader Ogier.
The Frenchman stopped with what Volkswagen would only describe as a 'mechanical problem'.
Hirvonen's Citroen made it to the finish despite a steering issue that cost him nearly six minutes, while Mads Ostberg reported that his M-Sport Ford's "wheel fell off" as he dropped three minutes.
Those that did make it through unscathed found themselves a long way off M-Sport driver Novikov's pace.
Second-placed Dani Sordo's Citroen is 20.6 seconds down on the Russian, but 15.7s ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, who is now VW's main hope.
The Finn's team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen is fifth, behind Thierry Neuville.
Robert Kubica leads WRC2 despite some scares in dust on the stage, and holds ninth overall.
Leg one of the shortened rally comprises just two stages, with the field now heading to service before tackling SS2 in darkness.
Leading positions after SS1: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford 32m58.6s 2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 20.6s 3. Jari-Matti Latvala VW + 36.3s 4. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford + 38.3s 5. Andreas Mikkelsen VW + 54.4s 6. Nasser Al-Attiyah M-Sport Ford + 57.5s 7. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 1m34.3s 8. Khalid Al-Qassimi Citroen + 2m13.3s 9. Robert Kubica PH Citroen + 2m51.6s* 10. Yuriy Protasov Mm Ford + 3m12.1s* * WRC2