Loeb Takes Lead in Greece

WRC Championship leader Sebastien Loeb has taken the lead of the Acropolis Rally at the end of Leg One

Loeb Takes Lead in Greece

Loeb took three impressive stage victories on the leg, including both runnings of the Elatia to Zeli stage on SS4 and SS7. The Frenchman was particularly impressive on the latter, completing the 32.54km test 13.4 seconds faster than his double-World Championship winning teammate Carlos Sainz.

The scene is now set for a close event with the top four cars covered by only 17.7 seconds, after four different drivers winning the day's six stages.

Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm ended the day 6.1s seconds behind Loeb in second, after taking two stage wins. Gronholm took both SS2 and SS5 which were the 18.44 km runnings of Eleftherohori. The Finn's day was not easy though after having to resort to using the manual gearshift on SS4 after his regular system developed problems on SS3.

Sainz is an impressive third, only 14 seconds off his teammates' leading pace. The Spaniard took his first stage victory since he was brought out of retirement, heading teammate Loeb by 0.7 seconds on SS6.

Toni Gardemeister is in fourth position despite his engine losing power twice on SS2. The works Ford Focus driver had a consistent day, finishing runner-up in two stages and only completing one stage outside the top four.

Privateer Mikko Hirvonen, who had stolen the show after the morning's three stages, ended Leg One in fifth. The Finn had taken a surprise lead with one stage win on SS3, however, he lost the lead when his 2004-spec Ford Focus lost three gears on SS5.

Championship contender Petter Solberg had a nightmare day. The Subaru driver went off the road three times on SS2 and lost his bootlid. He then suffered driveshaft problems that hampered his progress on this afternoon's stages. He is now more than three minutes behind Loeb in 14th.

Skoda's miserable run in the World Rally Championship continued with two of their three cars retiring.

Armin Schwarz retired between SS2 and SS3 after the German's Fabia WRC suffered engine failure. Teammate Janne Tuohino also went out after hitting a rock 5km from the end of SS2. He then radioed clutch failure from the startline of the next test.

Pos  Driver         Make          Time
 1.  Loeb           Citroen       24:37.6
 2.  Gronholm       Peugeot       +   6.1 
 3.  Sainz          Citroen       +  14.0
 4.  Gardemeister   Ford          +  17.7
 5.  Hirvonen       Ford          +  48.8
 6.  Rovanpera      Mitsubishi    +1:08.3
 7.  Solberg        Ford          +1:10.7
 8.  Galli          Mitsubishi    +1:37.8
 9.  Martin         Peugeot       +1:49.7
10.  Johansson      Subaru        +2:01.4
11.  Sohlberg       Subaru        +2:12.3
12.  Paasonen       Skoda         +2:19.4
13.  Pons           Citroen       +2:20.8
14.  Solberg        Subaru        +3:07.8
15.  Vovos          Subaru        +3:20.8
16.  Higgins        Ford          +4:03.3
17.  Papadimitriou  Ford          +4:44.1
18.  Atkinson       Subaru        +7:28.7
19.  Andersson      Suzuki        +9:05.9
20.  Sarrazin       Subaru        +9:33.7
shares
comments
Hirvonen Surprises with Early Lead
Previous article

Hirvonen Surprises with Early Lead

Next article

Solberg Puts Nightmare Behind Him

Solberg Puts Nightmare Behind Him
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022
Why WRC's Safari tour is more than just a rally Plus

Why WRC's Safari tour is more than just a rally

OPINION: A source of national pride in Kenya, the Safari Rally is also a sporting, cultural and economic phenomenon. And as last weekend's World Rally Championship round reminded us, it's a key driver in establishing Africa’s place in world motorsport

WRC
Jun 29, 2022
How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally Plus

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally

The Safari Rally acted as a brutal test of driver and car resolve as multiple retirements opened the path for a historic Toyota 1-2-3-4 triumph, headed by star Kalle Rovanpera. But keeping things clean was only half of the challenge, as a well-timed charge when conditions worsened allowed the Finn to take control

WRC
Jun 27, 2022
How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph Plus

How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph

The 2019 champion has been a bit-part player recently, but Ott Tanak ended a 15-month drought in fine style with a dominant win in Sardinia. On a weekend when championship leader Kalle Rovanpera struggled with cleaning the road, his Hyundai rival has made his belated arrival into the title race and given cause for those predicting a walkover from the Toyota star to pause

WRC
Jun 6, 2022