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GP Week : Issue 50
SNIPPETS FROM ACROPOLIS n The decision to ask Dani Sordo to slow at the end of SS6 was made in just seconds by the Citroen team, when they discovered that Jari-Matti Latvala, running behind Sordo, was delayed. Sordo’s co-driver Marc Marti said they suddenly received orders to lose 15 seconds or so when they were only 80 metres from the end of the stage – when still going flat-out. n Mads Ostberg’s new co-driver Jonas Andersson came to Greece with an impossible challenge. He had won the last four rallies he had entered, and was half thinking about a fifth! “Actually to finish fifth on this rally would be like a victory for Mads and I”, he said. They were lying fourth when the rear suspension broke. n There were only two foreign privateers (Citroen S1600s from the Czech Republic) at the Acropolis Rally, an event that once attracted dozens of private rallying crews every year. Stories about horrendous roughness was believed to be the reason they stayed away. Ironically, this year the roads were much smoother. n Japanese photographer Toshiyuki Iijima, 62, declared the Rally Acropolis to be the 287th and final rally in his career. He intends instead to fulfil a personal ambition of climbing a special mountain in China, which is over 500 meters high. His rally career started at the 1975 RAC Rally and he has attended every WRC event since 1990. n The Acropolis Rally was used as a guinea pig for an idea from FIA and ISC officials to make the service parks more attractive. Basically, it meant that spectators could stand right on the edge of the service park zone of each team, instead of standing the other side of an access road. Rally cars therefore entered their zone from the rear, not the front. The service park layout was in reality turned inside-out. Teams were happy with the change. n Ford’s world rally team director Malcolm Wilson has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and is to receive the OBE award from the Queen later this year. 42 Loeb’s step-by-step gu SEBASTIEN Loeb does not make many mistakes. In fact, it has been more than a year since his rally car has been on its roof, but whenever there is misfortune, it is always a little dramatic. He tells us about what happened at the Klenia Mycenae 1 stage on the Acropolis Rally, the opening stage on the second day. “We went a little bit too fast in a right corner,”he recalled, “and we hit a little stone in the bushes, in the inside of the left hand bend which followed, which I did not know anything about, and that made the car roll. End of the rally. I do not know exactly how many the times the car rolled over, a few times for sure, and happily me and my co-driver Daniel Elena are okay, which maybe the most important news. “I do not think I had been pushing too hard, and I do not think there was anything particularly wrong with the notes, I was just a bit too fast. Maybe I was not concentrating fully. “It was the first time through a new stage, and I think I was wondering whether our notes for the stage would have to be corrected for the second time through the stage. I think I lost my concentration just a bit, and I left my braking for the next bend too late. But, the race is lost, and there is no chance to start again for the final day. It is finished for me this year in Greece. “For sure I am disappointed, but it happens sometimes, that is part of rallying. I suppose I could say that we have suddenly made the race for the championship a bit more exciting. Anyway, we are still leading the series. I think our next rally in Poland will be interesting – new for everybody. We tested in Poland recently and it was an interesting place.” Phil Mill’s step-by-step gu THE three stages used on the second day in Greece were brand new for all the drivers, and there were some surprising results. Jari-Matti Latvala set the best time on the first, Evgeny Novikov set the fastest on the second (before he suffered a shock absorber problem on the third), Petter Solberg was second on the second before being awarded a joint winning time on the third, after it was yellow-flagged by officials. It was an extraordinary part of the event, where the two Citroen Total drivers crashed on successive stages, and on SS8, the second in the loop, Novikov, Solberg and Latvala were all at least 10 seconds faster than the next best driver – over a quarter minute faster than Mikko Hirvonen. Because he was yellow-flagged on SS9, we will never know if Solberg would have repeated his performance on the stage before. Solberg’s co-driver Phil Mills reckoned that the downhill stretches on SS8 were an invitation for bravery. But Mills also reckoned there was another underlying theme behind what was going on … “New stages were the key,”he said. “It is rare for a driver to be able prove himself in rallying these days, because his performance is obscured by his accumulated experiences. Petter and I won in Japan the first time it was held, then we won Sardinia the first time as well, and I am sure that pace notes is the key. “Performance on new, unproven parts of the rally shows up who makes good, accurate pace notes, and know how to commit to driving to them. It is one thing to know how to prepare accurate pace notes, it is another thing to commit yourself fully to them! It is an argument that we should have brand