Early Grecian baths

The rock strewn Acropolis Rally stages are known as car breakers but this advance intelligence has not prevented a number of early retirements. As many works entries have dropped out as there have been stages this morning (Friday) with Hyundai coming off worst

Early Grecian baths

Barely had Special Stage 1 got underway when Armin Schwarz's Accent ground to halt with a broken alternator and cambelt. Then, just as all eyes turned to team-mate Freddy Loix, more bad luck hit the Korean team.

Loix describes what happened next: "About 3-4km into the stage I heard a big bang and almost immediately flames came from under the bonnet. I thought either a hose had broken or the turbo had gone so we stopped to put out the fire. I could see the top mount of the front left suspension was broken and there was a severed oil pipe from the reservoir."

The Belgian, and co-driver Sven Smeets, struggled to continue but the car was mortally wounded. "After Stage 2 I could tell that the suspension was coming loose," said Loix. "I would love to have kept going but the most likely result would have been us having to stop in the next stage with far more damage.

"We couldn't properly relocate the suspension arm or stop it moving so there was no point going into SS3. I'm very disappointed because otherwise the car felt good over the first few kilometres. After the last two events I really wanted to have a good rally here in Greece."

Also out is early pacesetter Francois Duval, who retired after crashing his Ford in SS5, Peugeot's Juuso Pykalisto and Citroen's Sebastien Loeb who had engine trouble.

The rally leader after five stages, Markko Martin, smashed his windscreen in same stage as team-mate Duval. Reports are emerging that he finished the run with the bonnet up over the screen. Harri Rovanpera is currently running in second place, with Marcus Gronholm in third, while series leader Richard Burns is down in 11th.

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