Loeb Wins Acropolis Rally

Sebastien Loeb has won the Acropolis Rally, his sixth victory from eight rallies this season

Loeb Wins Acropolis Rally

The Frenchman now holds a commanding 23-point championship lead over Subaru's Petter Solberg, who finished outside the points after hitting trouble on Leg One.

Despite having nearly a one and a half minute lead going into the leg, Loeb kept pushing, taking a 3.9 second stage win on SS17, and only being one tenth of a second off Ford's Toni Gardemeister on SS16.

The points scoring positions at the end of yesterday's Leg Two didn't change order during Leg Three, with Ford's Toni Gardemeister completing his impressive drive to second, securing fastest time on SS16. It was his only stage win of the rally.

Gardemeister's pace meant he finished ahead of Loeb's Citroen teammate Carlos Sainz, who settled for third on his final event. The Spainard will now bow out of the World Rally Championship, after a career that included two world titles and 26 victories.

Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm continued to post competitive stage times after recovering from yesterday's driveshaft problems, but went into the day knowing it would be a tough job to get onto the podium. He finished more than a minute behind Sainz.

The battle for fifth was the one to watch however, with only 2.3 seconds separating privateer Mikko Hirvonen from Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera at one point on Leg Three.

Hirvonen had extended his advantage to 26.9 seconds at the end of yesterday, however Rovanpera was faster on both of this morning's stages. Hirvonen then hit back with the sort of form that landed him a works Subaru drive in 2004, taking two stage wins on the last two stages to head Rovanpera by 16.8 seconds. It was the Finn's first points since he left Subaru.

Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli and Peugeot's Markko Martin rounded out the points scoring positions. Martin managed to fend off the threat of a recovering Solberg, who finished the rally 25.5 seconds behind the Estonian.

Result of Acropolis Rally, Greece:

Pos Driver Team Time 1. Loeb Citroen 4h12m53.7 2. Gardemeister Ford + 1:36.2 3. Sainz Citroen + 2:11.1 4. Gronholm Peugeot + 2:56.4 5. Hirvonen Ford + 3:13.2 6. Rovanpera Mitsubishi + 3:44.4 7. Galli Mitsubishi + 5:19.6 8. Martin Peugeot + 5:37.5 9. Solberg Subaru + 6:03.0 10. Pons Citroen + 9:13.4 
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