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Old 05-24-2007, 01:19 PM
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Subaru Impreza WRC 2007

Event Bulletin
Rally Sardegna - preview
11 May 2007

The Subaru World Rally Team moves from the grassy Pampas of Argentina to the dramatic Mediterranean landscape of Sardinia for round seven of the 16-event World Rally Championship.

Italy’s round of rallying’s global tour is based in the port of Olbia on the picturesque Costa Smeralda coast, in the north east of Sardinia. It is the fourth consecutive loose-surface rally in this year’s championship and competitors will speed through a spectacular mountain landscape.

The rally includes some technical, medium-width roads featuring a hard-packed base covered with a layer of fine, sandy gravel. The drivers running first on the road will be at a disadvantage because they will be sweeping the loose surface for the following cars. However, some of the roads tend to get very rough when the crews drive through them for the second time, which they will do with all of the nine routes. Therefore a shrewd tyre choice and intelligent driving will be absolutely vital on this event.

Warm temperatures are the norm, but rain is a possibility, especially up in the hills, where the drivers will thread their cars up narrow passes to altitudes of more than 800 metres above sea level. Indeed, at the moment the forecast is for the rally to be held on a damp surface.

After the ceremonial start in the old harbour area of Porto Cervo on Thursday 17 May, the action begins with the 31km Crastazza stage at 0943hrs on Friday morning. There are six timed sections on each of the three days, and the winning car is scheduled to cross the finish line back in Porto Cervo at 1430hrs on Sunday 20 May.

The legs on Friday and Saturday are quite similar to those used in previous years. The first day takes competitors through the State Property Forest of Castrazza, in the province of Nuoro. For day two the action shifts to Terranova, and mixes familiar roads with new sections, before the final day includes one test that is completely new: Monte Nuragone. In total, the competitors will cover 342.86km of timed sections and 718.98km of public road driving, making a total rally distance of 1061.84km.

Entries
The Subaru World Rally Team has entered two Impreza WRC2007s for Rally d’Italia Sardegna. Petter Solberg/Phil Mills will drive car number seven, while Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot will drive car number eight. Petter and Phil won the event in 2004, leading from start to finish, and also finished second in 2005. Chris will start his third Sardinian event, having shown plenty of potential in his previous two outings. In 2006 he climbed as high as third overall, winning one stage along the way.
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:32 PM
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Rally d'Italia Sardegna - leg one
18 May 2007

Starters
82 crews started leg one of Rally d’Italia-Sardegna.

Route
For the first day, competitors negotiated gravel roads in the hills of the State Property Forest of Castrazza, in the province of Nuoro. The day comprised two loops of three stages split by a return to service in Olbia. With the competitive distance of each loop totalling 72km, it was a demanding start to the rally.

Weather
Long-range forecasts had hinted at rain for Friday, but instead north-eastern Sardinia was bathed in bright sunshine as the rally got underway. Ambient temperatures ranged from 18 to a high of 26 degrees Celsius.

Retirements
Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot; Daniel Carlsson/Denis Giraudet

Subaru World Rally Team summary
The two Subaru World Rally Team drivers made a positive start to round seven of the World Rally Championship, but the prospects of two strong finishes were reduced during a much tougher afternoon. Petter Solberg/Phil Mills were battling at the front before a brake problem hindered them on SS4, and they finished the day in sixth place. Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot were on course to end the day comfortably inside the top eight until they were unable to avoid some rocks in the middle of the road on SS5. They went off and lost several minutes because their Impreza became beached on a boulder.

SS1: 0943hrs Crastazza 1 (31.13km)
The opening leg of the rally began from 0830hrs when cars left the service area in Olbia to tackle the first of six stages. Crastazza was located 57km south west of Olbia and at 31km it was the longest of the whole rally. Weather conditions were fine, dry and sunny as crews began the loose gravel stage in championship order. Subaru’s Petter Solberg tackled the stage fifth, with his team-mate Chris Atkinson seventh in the second of the Impreza WRC2007s. A layer of loose, fine gravel on the road put the first cars through the stage at a disadvantage and the road cleaned significantly as the leaders swept the loose material from the racing line. Those behind benefited from the cleaner surface and the stage was won by the eighth driver through, young Finn Jari-Matti Latvala. Marcus Gronholm set the next best time, with Chris Atkinson third and Solberg fourth.
Fastest time: J-M Latvala (Ford) 21m 27.8s

SS2: 1058hrs Terranova 1 (21.21km)
Following Crastazza, and after a re-fuelling halt, crews drove 21km north to Terranova and its tricky mixture of conditions. The stage begins with a 5km sprint along a narrow tree-lined track, after which there are a lot of square junctions, crests, straights, narrow gates and two tarmac sections, which are especially challenging to drive on gravel tyres. Problems with the timing system delayed the start by five minutes, but once underway, Sebastien Loeb led the field through. The road cleaning effect on Terranova was less pronounced than it had been on Crastazza and Loeb won the stage despite running first on the road. Petter Solberg set the second fastest time, just 1.8sec behind the pace of the Frenchman. Petter’s older brother Henning was third, with Marcus Gronholm fourth and rally leader Latvala rounding off the top five times.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 15m 14.9s

SS3: 1134hrs Monte Olia 1 (20.36km)
The last stage of the morning loop was the 20km section at Monte Olia, reckoned by Subaru’s Stephane Prevot to be the most important of the day. The last five kilometres of Monte Olia are some of the most difficult parts of the rally and combine a furious pace with a changeable road surface, multiple junctions, crests and a big jump. Fastest over the tricky surface was Henning Solberg, who set the best time, 1.2sec ahead of Gronholm who was second. Latvala was third quickest to retain the overall lead of the rally by a slim 1.5sec. Petter Solberg was fourth quickest through the stage and held third position overall. Chris Atkinson reported that the handling of his car had prevented him from attacking with confidence as he had on the first stage. But with a 30-minute service before the next test, he and the rest of the field had a chance to make set-up changes before the repeat loop.
Fastest time: H. Solberg (Ford) 14m 52.7s

SS4: 1453hrs Crastazza 2 (31.13km)
The fourth stage of the day was a re-run of the opening test, Crastazza. Marcus Gronholm was the stage winner and became the fourth driver in four stages to claim a fastest time. The win moved Gronholm ahead of Latvala, who was third fastest, and into the overall lead of the rally. There was a setback before the stage started for Petter Solberg, who picked up a ten second penalty when work on a rear brake caliper overran and he left service one minute late. On the stage Solberg reported further difficulties with his car’s rear brakes and was unable to match the excellent pace he had shown earlier in the day. The Norwegian set the seventh fastest time, 27sec off Gronholm’s pace, and dropped from third to sixth overall as a result.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 20m 51.9s

SS5: 1608hrs Terranova 2 (21.21km)
After the passage of the all the competitors earlier in the day, the road surface of Terranova had deteriorated by the time it was repeated as SS5. The gravel stage now featured deep ruts in many corners, and a number of rocks had been uncovered on the racing line as tyres dug into the loose surface for traction. The conditions proved costly for Latvala and Atkinson, who both retired with rock-related problems. Latvala, the rally leader for the morning loop of stages, stopped midway through the test with broken suspension, while Atkinson’s Impreza was deflected of course by some rocks and became beached on a roadside boulder. Atkinson did eventually get underway again, but with doubts about engine damage in the incident, the Subaru team decided to recover the car to the service area for checks. If all is well, Atkinson will re-start the rally on leg two.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 14m 44.9s

SS6: 1644hrs Monte Olia 2 (20.36km)
Day one finished with a repeat of the Monte Olia test. Sebastien Loeb took the stage win, and with it the overnight rally lead, after Marcus Gronholm finished 25 seconds off the pace with a broken damper. Petter Solberg’s car continued to be affected by a lack of rear braking power and the Norwegian dropped more time to the leaders. His time of 14m 57.6s was the seventh fastest, and he will start tomorrow’s second leg sixth overall.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 14m 30.9s
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:42 PM
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Rally d'Italia Sardegna - leg two
19 May 2007

Starters
80 of the original 82 competitors started day two of the event.

Route
For the second leg the action shifted to Terranova, south-west of the rally’s base. The route mixed familiar roads used in previous years with new sections. Competitors tackled three stages in the morning and then returned to the same three tests in the afternoon, following a 30-minute service halt back in Olbia.

Weather
It was another dry and sunny day in north-eastern Sardinia. The ambient temperature ranged from 15 degrees Celsius as the cars left service in the morning to a high of 26 degrees.

Retirements
Luis Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta (Ford Focus WRC)

Subaru World Rally Team summary
Petter Solberg and Phil Mills ended the second day of action in Sardinia in sixth position overall. The Subaru World Rally Team pairing are 40 seconds off fourth position with six stages left to run tomorrow. After not completing two stages yesterday, Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot rejoined under SupeRally rules. They successfully completed all six stages and gathered a lot of data about the Impreza WRC2007.
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:51 PM
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Rally d'Italia Sardegna - leg three
20 May 2007

Starters
Seventy-three of the original 82 crews started the third leg.

Route
Six stages made up the final day. The tests were situated to the north and west of Olbia, the rally base. Unusually, there was no midday service halt: instead there was a short refuel between SS15 and SS16. After the final stage the drivers went to Porto Cervo to go over the ceremonial finish ramp at 1430hrs.

Weather
It was another fine day in north-eastern Sardinia. There were a few patches of light cloud high in the sky and ambient temperatures ranged from 18-27 degrees Celsius.

Retirements
Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena; Jan Kopecky/Filip Schovanek; Mads Ostberg/Ole Kristian Unnerud

Subaru World Rally Team summary
The Subaru World Rally Team entries of Petter Solberg/Phil Mills and Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot both came home inside the top ten after three days of hard driving in Sardinia. Both crews maintained their pace throughout the final six stages, but did not take unnecessary risks because the two cars also have to be used on the forthcoming Rally of Greece. Petter and Phil moved up one place to fifth during the day, while Chris and Stephane moved up from an overnight twelfth position to end the event tenth.
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:56 PM
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Old 06-02-2007, 03:32 AM
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Acropolis Rally of Greece preview
25 May 2007

WRC is ready to rock!
Every round of the World Rally Championship presents a tough challenge, but next weekend’s Acropolis Rally of Greece is one of the most difficult of them all. A combination of searing heat, boulder-strewn gravel roads and difficult stage layouts make this a true survival of the fittest. With a nine-week break in the WRC year after this event, the Subaru World Rally Team is heading to the Mediterranean keen to end the first half of the season on a high.

Since the Safari Rally left the WRC calendar, Greece’s round has assumed the mantle of ‘the toughest rally’. Durability is often just as important as outright performance. The ambient temperature – which can get as high as 40 degrees Celsius – puts driver fitness at a premium, while the rough conditions of the mountain roads are demanding on the machinery and the crews. The dust thrown up by other competing cars and rocks on the racing line are among the potential hazards, so the teams have to pay particular attention to under-car protection and engine cooling. The risk of punctures on sharp rocks is also a major factor, and the team’s tyre supplier BFGoodrich will offer a super-tough compound, introduced for the first time on the previous event in Sardinia, to suit the anticipated conditions.

The Acropolis Rally of Greece is one of the legendary events on the WRC calendar, albeit one that has experienced some major changes in a history that stretches back to the start of the World Rally Championship itself. In 2005 there was a major change in the event’s format. The rally had been based in central Greece, around the town of Lamia, 200km north of Athens, but two years ago it shifted its base to the Athens Olympic Stadium complex.

The move meant the rally organisers could incorporate some new special stages into the route, using some roads in the hills to the north and west of Greece’s capital city. For 2007 the base of the rally has moved once again – this time to the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Markopoulo, 30km south of Athens – but some of last year’s special stages remain, mixed with a selection of roads that are new to the drivers. One stage, Agii Theodori, measures a monster 48.88km and uses a combination of familiar sections and unknown roads. It is the longest special stage used so far this year, eclipsing the 46.02km St Pierreville – Antraigues test used on Rallye Monte Carlo.

The Olympic Equestrian Centre – which hosted the horse racing and horseback riding contests during the 2004 Olympic Games – will play host to the rally headquarters, the service park, and the ceremonial start and finish. Within the horse racing track a 3.3km gravel Super Special Stage has been designed. This stage, which will open the rally at 1900hrs on Thursday 31 May and close it at 1430hrs on Sunday 3 June, has a mirror-image layout and the two-driver, head-to-head format will whip the passionate Greek rally fans into a frenzy.

The scheduled SS9/20, Imittos, has been cancelled at late notice and so 21 of the planned 23 special stages will now be run. The organisers have altered the route accordingly and the competitive distance for the rally is 334.44km. The crews will also tackle 1237.89km of road driving, meaning the overall event distance is 1572.33km.

Entries
The Subaru World Rally Team has entered two Impreza WRC2007s for the eighth round of the World Rally Championship. Petter Solberg/Phil Mills will drive car number seven, while Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot will drive car number eight. Petter and Phil have contested the event six times with Subaru: in addition to a win in 2004, they have also finished second (2001), third (2003), fifth (2002) and seventh (2006). This will be Chris’s third time in Greece (albeit his first with Stephane Prevot as his co-driver) and the Australian is aiming to use the experience gained on the Greek stages in 2005 and 2006 to secure a solid points finish. The Subaru World Rally Team has a record of five wins in the past 13 seasons in Greece.

Quotes
Richard Taylor, Subaru World Rally Team managing director: “We’re in the middle of a test at the moment, and it’s difficult to set precise targets for Greece until we’ve assessed the results of our three days in Wales. The close proximity of the Acropolis Rally to the previous event in Sardinia, allied to the fact that we have to use the same car for both events, means that we won’t have much time to implement improvements to the car, so we’re anticipating that the changes in Greece will be small. However we have a very good engineering plan for the summer break and also expect to utilise some extra engineering resources to help our development progress at a faster rate. I’d expect to see significant progress by the time the WRC reconvenes for Rally Finland in August.”

Paul Howarth, Subaru World Rally Team operations director: “We’re heading to Greece a little earlier than usual – we have to use the same car for this event as we did in Sardinia, so we’ll rebuild the cars down there, rather than back at base. The build-up to the event has been very wet. I don’t think it is going to be as rough as the Acropolis was last year. The stages have received more work since last year and seem to have held up despite the poor weather. Nevertheless it will be a tough event, and Saturday is going to be more like rallies were in the past – we’ve got a 48km stage and two remote service halts, so the team will be chasing the rally cars around the country. There are 17 World Rally Cars entered on this event, so there will be a lot of competition for points. We need to make sure we stay consistent all the way through.”

Petter Solberg: “We’ve been working hard to develop the car in Wales this week, so hopefully we’ll see an improvement when we get to Greece next weekend. I think we also need a change of luck! Of course this event has always been difficult with the weather and rough tracks, although the new stages might be slightly less demanding on the car. We will know when we do the recce, but to be honest I don’t care if the stages are tougher or easier, I will always try my best.”

Chris Atkinson: “It’s hard to make a prediction before I test the car today [Friday], but there were moments in Sardinia when we were right where we wanted to be. Our pace on the opening morning was promising and right now we’re trying to ensure we can attack like that all the way through the Acropolis Rally. We already know it’s going to be one of the toughest events of the year. The rally throws up so many variables and you’ve got to stay sharp from start to finish.”

Further Information
Between The Rallies
There’s been little time for rest and relaxation for the Subaru World Rally Team’s star drivers since Rally d’Italia-Sardegna ended on 20 May. The drivers all left the Italian island on the Monday after the event. Petter and Phil joined the test team for two days of driving deep in the countryside of mid-Wales, on Wednesday and Thursday. Chris is scheduled to take over testing duties today (Friday 25 May). Chris, Phil and Stephane are due to join the team to begin their pre-rally preparations on Sunday, with Petter following on Monday. Meanwhile, the bulk of the equipment has been transported straight from Sardinia to Greece without returning to the team’s UK headquarters in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
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Old 06-02-2007, 03:41 AM
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Acropolis Rally of Greece - Leg one
31 May 2007

Entries
Sixty-two crews started the main section of leg one.

The route
After the rally-opening Superspecial on Thursday evening, the first full day of action comprised seven special stages. In the morning the crews tackled four tests then, after a 30-minute service back in Markopoulo, headed back out into the hills near Athens in the afternoon to drive the Schimatari, Thiva and Agia Sotira stages for a second time.

Weather
Dry, hot and very sunny. Ambient temperatures ranged from 23 to a high of 36 Celsius (on SS3).

Retirements
Francois Duval/Jean-Francois Elst (Skoda Fabia WRC)

Subaru World Rally Team summary
A very positive opening leg for the Subaru World Rally Team ended with both cars in podium positions. The team's shrewd choice of tyres enabled Chris Atkinson to forge into the lead of the rally early on, and Petter was soon up to a close second overall. Conditions in the afternoon were tougher – Petter maintained his second place but Chris slipped to third. However, both cars are on course to achieve strong points finishes, which was the team’s pre-rally objective for this hot, arduous gravel event.

Stage Summaries
SS1: 1900hrs SSS Hippodrome 1 (3.20km)
The rally started on Thursday night in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the Olympic horse racing arena just south of Athens. According to Petter Solberg's co-driver Phil Mills the specially constructed 3.2km stage contained three of the biggest jumps he’d ever seen on a Superspecial. Crews tackled the section head to head, with Petter drawn against his brother Henning, and Chris Atkinson against the Finn Jari-Matti Latvala. Both Subaru drivers won their heats, with Petter Solberg ending the day as the lead Subaru driver in fourth place overall.
Fastest time: Hirvonen (Ford) 2m 50.8s

SS2: 0913hrs Schimatari (11.57km)
By the time the crews headed out to the first gravel stage early on Friday morning, the temperature was already beginning to soar. This new-for-2007 test offered a tough challenge to the drivers, because it contained plenty of crests, jumps and some big drops off the side of the road. Both Subaru World Rally Team drivers made solid starts to the day. Petter set the third-fastest time of 10m 17.6s and in the process moved up to third in the overall standings. Chris was sixth fastest through the stage with a time of 10m 26.9s, and also progressed one place up the leaderboard to sixth. He reported that he had briefly stalled on one slow corner and lost approximately five seconds.
Fastest time: M. Gronholm (Ford) 10m 17.6s

SS3: Thiva 1 (23.76km)
The third stage packed 63 junctions into just under 24kms, and featured a varied mix of terrain. Chris powered to the fastest time by 7.9sec, claiming another stage win to add to the ones he picked up in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico earlier this year. His scorching time meant he vaulted from sixth overall into the lead of the rally. Petter set the second fastest time, although felt he still had some work to do to get the car to work as he wanted. Ironically, Petter and co-driver Phil Mills were chasing their fourth win on the Thiva stage in as many years, but found themselves beaten by their young team-mate!
Fastest time: C. Atkinson (Subaru) 16m 39.0s

SS4: 1117hrs Agia Sotira 1 (15.20km)
After a short halt for refuelling, the crews tackled the third of the morning’s tests. Agia Sotira was a classic Greek stage, on a bedrock surface and some big rocks lurking at the sides of the road to catch out untidy drivers. The surface was rough and loose, but Chris won his second stage in a row to extend his overall lead to 4.7sec. He had a quick half-spin near the start of the stage and lost a couple of seconds, but was otherwise satisfied. Petter recorded the third-fastest stage time of 9m 42.8s and jumped to second in the overall standings to make it a Subaru World Rally Team one-two.
Fastest time: C. Atkinson (Subaru) 9m 39.4s

SS5: 1240hrs Olympic Properties (Markopoulo) 1 (5.16km)
The final stage before service took place on the perimeter roads around the rally’s base at the equestrian centre at Markopoulo. The Subaru World Rally Team cemented its place at the top of the overall positions by setting the first and second fastest times on the short test. This time, however, it was Petter’s turn to be quickest, although Chris was only 0.8sec slower with a time of 3m 34.5s and so maintained his position in the lead of the rally.
Fastest time: P. Solberg (Subaru) 3m 33.7s

SS6: 1455hrs Schimatari 2 (11.57km)
After a 30-minute service at the Olympic Equestrian Centre, crews set off to repeat three of the morning’s four stages. The loose layer of gravel which had covered the rock hard road surface of Schimatari earlier had been swept off for the repeat and conditions were the same for all the cars. Gronholm was fastest through the stage – as he had been when it was run as SS2 – but in the cleaner conditions his time was seven seconds quicker. Petter Solberg was the fastest Subaru driver, bringing his Impreza through in the fifth-fastest time, while Atkinson was eight-fastest and held on to the overall lead of the rally.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 10m 10.1s

SS7: 1543hrs Thiva 2 (23.76km)
Although not particularly rough in comparison to the other Greek stages, the varied character of the 23km section from Thiva made it tricky for drivers to get into a comfortable driving rhythm. Citroen’s Dani Sordo was the stage winner, with Gronholm and Loeb close behind in second and third respectively. The result moved Gronholm into the lead of the rally and dropped Atkinson to third. Petter Solberg set the fourth fastest time to hold second overall, but both he and Atkinson reported a lack of precision in the handling of their cars compared to the morning run.
Fastest time: Sordo (Citroen) 16m 13.2s

SS8: 1659hrs Agia Sotira 2 (15.20km)
Leg one finished with a second run through the punishing 15.2km Agia Sotora test. Despite the rough and rocky terrain, times through the stage were extremely close and less than five seconds separated the seven fastest drivers. The stage win went to Sebastien Loeb, with Hirvonen second and Sordo third. Subaru’s Atkinson and Solberg were sixth and seventh fastest to end the leg in second and third place respectively.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 9m 25.6s

Quotes
Team Quote
Subaru World Rally Team managing director Richard Taylor: “We’re delighted to have two cars in podium positions at the end of leg one. We made a strong tyre choice for this morning’s loop of stages and it was fantastic for Chris to be leading when the cars came back into service at mid-day. The team performance today is proof that we’re moving in the right direction with the development of the car. We haven’t made huge gains in any one section of the car, but we have made small progress in a few areas and it’s great to see those changes having a positive result.”

Car Number Seven
Petter Solberg: "Not bad at all and it’s great to be back in the fight! The small improvements that the guys have done before the rally seem to working and even though we’re still lacking some speed I’m second overall and I’m happy because I can feel that we are on the right track. Like Chris we had a good morning, and then a more difficult afternoon when I struggled a bit with the handling, but still the times overall have been positive and I know there’s more speed to come. Tomorrow I really hope that we can get the whole package working well again, I expect that we’ll see a very exciting fight on the stages.”

Car Number Eight
Chris Atkinson: "We kept trying today, that’s for sure! We didn’t have the best car balance this afternoon compared to the morning - even though we didn’t change the set-up at the midday service - but we kept pushing as hard as we could and we’ve come back to service still third overall. Of course it’s good to be in such a strong position tonight, but the top ten is so close it’s crazy! Most of the repeated stages weren’t as cut up as I expected they’d be, but the last one was extremely rough. I wanted to keep the third place so went absolutely flat out, the car was bouncing off everything on the way through – so it was a relief that everything held together!"

Further Information
Tomorrow's Leg
Another eight stages await the drivers tomorrow. The leg begins with a gargantuan 48.88km test, Agii Theodori. The rest of the stages are short by comparison, but the long test is repeated again in the afternoon, when conditions are likely to be very rough. The day ends with another blast around the Olympic horse racing superspecial in Markopoulo. The total competitive distance will be 146.08km.
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Old 06-02-2007, 03:48 AM
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more pix
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Old 06-04-2007, 03:45 AM
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www.swrt.com has some great photos. It's too bad the big ones aren't available for everyone (although I have access to the media site..) The last one of the previous post is my new wallpaper
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Old 06-04-2007, 10:41 AM
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Acropolis Rally of Greece - leg two
02 June 2007

Starters
Fifty-six cars started the second leg of Acropolis Rally of Greece.

Route
The drivers faced eight stages today. The leg began with the gargantuan 48.20km test, Agii Theodori. The rest of the stages were short by comparison, but the long test was repeated again in the afternoon, when conditions were very hot and rough. The day ended with a blast around the Olympic horse racing superspecial in Markopoulo. The total competitive distance was 144.88km.

Weather
Like Friday, it was another dry, hot and sunny day. Ambient temperatures ranged from 25 to 36 Celsius.

Retirements
Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Citroen C4 WRC)

Subaru World Rally Team summary
The Subaru World Rally Team has two cars in the points positions after leg two of the event. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills are holding down a strong third place despite a difficult day of rallying in the hills near Athens. Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot have slipped down the order slightly to sixth position in the overall classification. They will be aiming to consolidate that place when the action resumes tomorrow.

Stage Summaries
SS10: 0903hrs Agii Theodori 1 (48.20km)
Leg two started from 0730hrs when crews collected their cars from the Athens overnight parc ferme and checked in for 10 minutes of service time. From there they headed 91km to Agii Theodori, the longest stage of the rally, and of the WRC season so far. Even the fact that the stage had been shortened by 600 metres due to a landslide, still made it a huge challenge. Described by Chris Atkinson as ‘a monster’ the stage contains a punishing assortment of conditions from rough, downhill and flat-out sections to more twisty and technical parts. The route includes river crossings, dips, crests and some places that are so narrow the cars only just squeeze through. One feature of the route which is consistent is the razor sharp rocks, which are scattered across the road surface. Building on their stage winning performance of leg one, Subaru’s Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson were quick out of the blocks and at the 30km point Atkinson was five seconds quicker even than World Champion Sebastien Loeb. But a front-right puncture at the 38km mark hampered his speed over the final 10kms and with the rubber flailing from the wheel rim Atkinson dropped around 1m 50s and slipped from third to seventh overall. Solberg also lost a little time over the final kilometres, as he caught the dust cloud behind Atkinson’s car, but the Norwegian set the third fastest time and held on to second place overall.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 32m 47.9s

SS11: 1036hrs Loutraki 1 (9.18km)
After the marathon opening test, crews drove to the town of Loutraki and a 15 minute remote service zone. Here cars were re-prepped and fitted with fresh tyres for the loop of three consecutive stages that followed. Based on roads close to Agii Theodori, and a comparative sprint at only 9km long, SS11 is the most twisty stage of the rally, with hairpin after hairpin, many of which have double apexes. To make things more complex, big drops on the inside of most of the corners make neat driving absolutely essential. Petter Solberg was the fastest Subaru driver, his third-quickest time just 1.4sec off that of stage winner Loeb. The result kept Solberg firmly in the podium battle, but dropped him just behind the Frenchman to third overall. Chris Atkinson was the sixth fastest driver.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 7m 21.1s

SS12: 1141hrs Agia Triada 1 (10.80km)
The 10km Agia Triada stage is strewn with huge boulders and features a hard, bedrock base which is extremely abrasive and hard on tyres. But the fearsome conditions seemed to suit Subaru’s Petter Solberg well and he drove his Impreza WRC2007 though in a remarkable time, winning the stage by a margin of 4.7sec from the next quickest, Marcus Gronholm. The result meant Solberg moved back ahead of Loeb and into second place overall. Chris Atkinson also had a good stage. He was fourth fastest and moved up to fifth overall.
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 7m 24.5s

SS13: 1254hrs Olympic Properties 2 (5.16km)
The final stage before the cars returned to service was a blast along the perimeter roads of the Olympic horse racing course. It was the second time the competitors had tackled the stage: Petter had been quickest through the 5.16km test on Friday, and repeated the feat to set his third fastest stage time of the event and consolidate his second position overall. He came into service just 15.8sec behind Marcus Gronholm, with four more stages left to run on this leg. Chris posted a time of 3m 27.0s, which meant he ended the morning’s action in fifth position overall. Neither driver reported any problems on the stage.
Fastest time: P. Solberg (Subaru) 3m 23.4s

SS14: 1519hrs Agii Theodori 2 (48.20km)
For the second pass through the rally’s longest stage, the air temperature had risen to 32 degrees Celsius, while a ground temperature of 39 Celsius meant clever tyre conservation was vital. Other hazards included large rocks which had been dragged onto the racing line by the competing cars during the morning’s action. Petter set a time of 32m 52.9s, seven seconds quicker than his morning effort. The time meant he remained second overall behind Marcus Gronholm. Chris sped through the stage in 33m 14.9s and consolidated his fifth position. The Aussie drove well within his limits and preserved his car for the rest of the afternoon’s stages.
Fastest time: M. Gronholm 32m 33.0s

SS15: Loutraki 2 (9.18km)
After a swift 15-minute remote service halt on the west coast of Greece, 120km from rally headquarters, the crews set off for the last three stages of the leg. Although SS15 was mercifully short, it was still a demanding test packed with slow corners. Petter set a time of 7m 23.8s, which put him fifth quickest, while Chris was two places behind his team-mate with a 7m 26.6s effort. That meant that the Norwegian remained second overall, albeit with Sebastien Loeb just 4.5sec behind him. Chris, meanwhile, dropped one place from fifth to sixth, but was comfortably clear of seventh-placed Jan Kopecky.
Fastest time: S. Loeb (Citroen) 7m 14.7s

SS16: 1757hrs Agia Triada 2 (10.80km)
For the penultimate stage of the day, the crews headed east from Loutraki back towards Athens. Petter’s time of 7m 40.3s was the seventh quickest through the test. He reported a problem with the front-left damper which compromised his pace during SS15 and SS16. With more than one minute’s advantage over fourth-placed Mikko Hirvonen, however, he remained on course for a podium finish. Chris also experienced some difficulties with a damper, and also a driveshaft failure. He dropped more than one minute to his rivals, but remained sixth overall.
Fastest time: S. Loeb (Citroen) 7m 17.2s

SS17: 1917hrs Hippodrome 2 (3.20km)
The day ended with the second of three runs through the Superspecial inside the Olympic equestrian centre at Markopoulo. Petter stopped the clocks in 2m 58.5s, which was enough for him to ensure he would end the second day in third position overall. For Chris, the mission was to make it through the stage safely and he remained sixth in the overall classification after the 3.20km test.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 2m 52.8s

Quotes
Team Quotes
Subaru World Rally Team managing director Richard Taylor: “It’s been a fairly typical day on Rally of Greece and most of the leading competitors have experienced problems of one kind or another. It was as tough as we expected – Chris was slowed by a puncture on the first stage of the day, and Petter had to slow towards the end of the same stage when his visibility was obscured by dust. Then Petter experienced a broken damper near the end of the day, while Chris had a driveshaft problem which cost him quite a lot of time. Nevertheless we still have two cars in the points after two days of extremely challenging conditions. Before the rally we would have been very happy to be looking at a podium and a sixth place, but in light of the position we were in yesterday, we now feel slightly disappointed. That’s a measure of the recent progress the team has made.”

Car Number Seven
Petter Solberg: “Without the damper problem this afternoon I think we could have had a much better result, but we are here, we are on the podium and from the point of view of the team and Subaru we can be happy with what has been achieved. Again we showed we have the performance to take on Marcus and Sebastien and that’s very important for the future. But this rally is certainly not over yet. I’m still going to fight tomorrow and as we saw this afternoon, things can change around very quickly.”

Car Number Eight
Chris Atkinson: “We started the day with a really good pace, but again things didn’t really go to plan as the day went on. I’m happy with the way I was driving, and it’s clear that the basic car package is improving all the time, but the rough conditions gave us a few mechanical problems and prevented us from pushing for a better result. But there's still the chance that we can have a better day tomorrow, so we'll do our best and see what happens.”

Further Information
Tomorrow's Leg
The final leg of the rally comprises four special stages and then another thrash around the Superspecial inside the stadium at the Olympic equestrian centre. The competitive distance covered will be 78.94km.
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"It is a very good looking car, If you have cataract" - JC about the Alpine A610
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  #11  
Old 06-04-2007, 10:48 AM
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more pix from leg two
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Old 06-04-2007, 11:00 AM
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For some unknown reason there is no news regarding Leg Three but there are pics
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