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GP Week : Issue 49
>>WRCINSIGHT cond half of the World Rally Championship is ready off, and Ford have finally found some form. But roen be back on top in Greece, or will tactics be the ?MARTIN HOLMES investigates T HE second half of the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship starts this weekend at the hot and dusty Acropolis Rally, where there will be a lot of changes. The event has been based for the past three years close to the Greek capital Athens. This year the base will be at Loutraki, some 100km west of Athens, near the celebrated canal city of Corinth. The Ceremonial start on the Thursday evening will be held close to the Canal itself. The nature of the route has changed a lot this year, running on the first day around the Golf of Corinth, past Delphi to Itea, where this year there will be a remote service halt. The second day sees stages the other side of Corinth in the Peloponnese peninsula, the first time the Acropolis has visited this part of Greece since 1991. The final day will visit stages in the mountains to the east of Loutraki. Several of the stages on the rally, especially on the first day, are only used once. This is good for reducing the degradation caused by double passage, but bad for the amount of extra pre-rally work to be covered during the regulatory two-day recce. This is likely to be the hottest rally of this year’s championship and in many ways the most exhausting for the crews, on account of the effect of the heat on crews wearing multi-layered fireproof overalls. It is also one of the most demanding on account of the tyre wear. Clerk of the Course Anita Passalis says “the Loutraki municipality authorities are very helpful, and enjoyed the short time when the rally passed last year. The reason why so many stages are once only is mainly to have the chance to re-visit several historic stages in the classic areas around Delphi, and there isn’t time to do them twice. The chance to go to Peloponnese gives spectators the chance to escape, going camping, getting away from it all feeling.” The original list of competitors named 47 crews, including all nine registered WRC team drivers, and most importantly Petter Solberg. Solberg’s entry means that his plan to compete at Le Mans cannot now happen. He has the same car as used in Sardinia, but now with extra cooling fans fitted for the engine. Co-driver Phil Mills said “it wasn’t funny driving round the stages in Sardinia with the in-car heater at full power!” Since that Acropolis original entry list was published, the additional Adapta team’s Subaru Impreza World Rally Car entry for Ari Vovos has been withdrawn. Adapta 41