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Greece (Acropolis) - 31 May-2 Jun 13

Posted: April 13, 2016 9:40 AM - 2905 Hits

Round 6 - 2013 World Rally Championship

FIA confirms Volkswagen's Rally Greece success

Posted: April 13, 2016 9:40 AM

Following Volkswagen's success at the Rally Greece and the presentation ceremony, at which FIA President Jean Todt officially presented Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) with the winner's trophy, the victorious Volkswagen team was surprised to hear of a protest. The protest concerned rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) who finished fourth, and the winners of the Power Stage, S?bastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F). The protest was dismissed as unsubstantiated.

The Citroen Total Abu Dhabi Team launched a protest against the classification of the three Volkswagen Polo R WRCs driven by Latvala/Anttila, Mikkelsen/Markkula and Ogier/Ingrassia. This protest was rejected due to a formal error. The manufacturer then filed a further two protests against "Volkswagen Motorsport" (Latvala/Ogier) and "Volkswagen Motorsport II" (Mikkelsen). These protests also exhibited mistakes in their content, but were accepted by the sports commissioners. Both sides were summoned to a hearing to explain their viewpoints.

The protests were directed at batteries, which, exclusively during Parc Ferm? periods, are left in the cars overnight as spare parts and are then removed the following morning before leaving the Service Park. This has been common practice in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for years. A technical delegate of the FIA approved this procedure prior to the 2013 season, upon explicit inquiry from Volkswagen.

After extensive consultation, the sports commissioners dismissed the protests as unsubstantiated.


Posted: April 13, 2016 9:39 AM

Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran produced a faultless performance at their second World Championship rally. Having taken the lead of the WRC2 category after the first stage of the Acropolis Rally, the Poles went on to build up a healthy lead that they were able to defend comfortably on the final day. Obtained in particularly testing conditions, this result is also the first win for the Citroen DS3 RRC at an international event.

After Portugal, the Acropolis Rally was the second round in Robert Kubica's programme in WRC2. The rally got off to the perfect start for the Pole on Friday, who grabbed the category lead after winning the first two stages. He entered parc ferm? having already established a lead of close to 40s: "It's a good start, although we lost a bit of time in the dust behind a driver who had a puncture. We also had a small spin on SS2, but it was nothing serious."

Kubica confirmed his control of the race on Saturday morning. Putting together a series of four fastest times in as many stages, the Citroen DS3 RRC driver extended his lead by a further minute! "This leg shows just how difficult this event is", he analysed during the midday service. "When the roads are wide, it's very nice to drive. But I didn't enjoy the tricky places so much. But you just have to be patient and go through them. When you are competing here for the first time, there are many things you have to take into account, but it's going well so far!"

With three further stage wins in the course of the afternoon, the Pole ended day two with a 2:20 lead over Yurii Protasov. He could therefore control his pace on the final day, made up of four reasonably smooth stages. Despite losing a bit of time, Robert Kubica went on to claim the category win!

"Yes, it's a great day for me", he admitted. "For sure, it has been a very, very difficult weekend. I think Acropolis is an extremely tough rally, especially for someone like me who has twenty years' experience of racing on a circuit! It's the total opposite of what I have been used to. There are many things for me to learn still, but it has been a great learning experience and a very productive weekend. Even when driving slowly today, it is still easy to make a mistake when you're tackling stages for the first time, especially in tough conditions like those here. I'm now looking forward to Rally Sardegna, where I can put what I have learned this weekend to good use."

"Robert had already shown, on gravel and on tarmac, that he has genuine pace, but he still needed to learn about discipline", reiterated Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal. "He had a great race here, including the final leg when he managed his lead. I have the feeling that this may something of a turning point for him. It certainly augurs well in terms of our shared objective, which is to win the WRC2 title."

Robert Kubica now lies sixth overall in the WRC2 championship standings, with 33 points from just two rallies.


Posted: April 13, 2016 9:38 AM

As the abrasive stages of the Acropolis Rally of Greece came to a close today, Qatar World Rally Team's Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul delivered their second podium of the year. Following a faultless drive, their Qatar World Rally Team comrades ? Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini ? secured a well-deserved fifth place with Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team's Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov recovering well in sixth and ninth places respectively.

Playing out his conservative strategy to perfection, Neuville was flawless in his approach to this notoriously difficult event. Never lower than fourth place overall and rarely out of the top five on individual stage times, the Belgian displayed outright pace while being in constant control of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Avoiding the pitfalls which ended so many of his rivals' quests for glory, Neuville's podium marks his second to date ? each achieved with M-Sport machinery on extremely rough and demanding stages.

Also impressing on the Greek event, a strong drive from Al-Attiyah saw him secure a third successive fifth place finish. Well versed in the challenges posed by such a rocky event, the Qatari's vast experience paid dividends as he attacked the stages whilst safeguarding his Michelin-shod Fiesta through the rock-strewn tests.

Despite narrowly missing out on fourth position this weekend, Al-Attiyah's result sees him build on what has been his best ever start to an FIA World Rally Championship season.

In an eventful rally for the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, Ostberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson did well to recover sixth place. Having lost time hitting a concrete step on Day 1 and with the punishing stages taking their toll on the duo through yesterday's running, the Scandinavians regrouped for the final day.

With a better road position, Ostberg conserved his tyres for a big push on the all-important Power Stage. Having set the third fastest time through the stage on the previous loop, the Norwegian was looking good. Unfortunately, his back luck only continued as a puncture denied him of any chance of points. Having led the rally in its early phase, Novikov and co-diver Ilka Minor continued to shine on the mountain stages. Suffering huge time loss following an unfortunate encounter with a rock which broke the rear-right wheel and damaged their Fiesta's brake disc and suspension, the pairing remained one of the stars of the show with five stage wins to their credit ? more than any other crew this weekend.

Using today's running wisely ? adjusting his pacenotes through the morning ? the Russian's pace meant that he was a firm favourite for Power Stage points going into the afternoon loop. True to his pace, the Russian posted the second fastest time to claim an additional two points for his championship campaign.

Thierry Neuville (3rd) said:
"We've shown this weekend that the car is very competitive and I think that we have shown that we [myself and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul] can be competitive too. We have done a good job this weekend ? the strategy paid off and we achieved our second podium of the year.

"We have proven that we can be clever as well as fast ? something which is very important here in Greece. OK, it is not so easy! I am only 24 and sometimes it is very hard to see the others [drivers] setting really fast times and telling yourself that you need to hold back. But it is working, and we are improving all the time.

"The team have done a great job this weekend and I need to say a big thanks to my mechanics who were fantastic all weekend. I really hope that our performance continues like this and that we can continue to improve over the rest of the season."

Nasser Al-Attiyah (5th) said:
"This has been another fantastic rally for us. OK, it was a shame not to get fourth place, but Andreas [Mikkelsen] drove very well today and it was more important for us to finish the event and secure another top-five finish.

"The team have all worked very hard and I am very happy to finish in the top-five. We have done three rallies this season and always finished in the top-five which is a very good performance for us."

Mads Ostberg (6th) said:
"It's been a very difficult weekend for us. Everything just wasn't on our side and it's been really frustrating. When everything was working well I think that we progressively went faster and faster and showed some good speed, but this definitely wasn't the result I was looking for.

"Having said that, it does look promising in terms of speed and we can go to Sardinia knowing that we have the pace to fight. That event has been good to us in the past, so hopefully our bad luck will finally turn around there."

Evgeny Novikov (9th) said:
"Generally I think that we showed some good speed here, but with the incident on Day 2 we lost any chance of a good result. Everything was working really well and I felt really good in the car with a really good rhythm. We were able to set good times without pushing to the maximum so that is very positive going forward.

"Of course this is not the result we wanted, but I think that we have proved a lot this weekend. We've shown that we have the pace to compete at the head of the field and I hope that we can continue to improve like this in Sardinia."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"I think we've seen a strong result from both teams this weekend. It was a really mature drive from Thierry [Neuville]. He stuck to his game plan, wasn't drawn into any battles and thoroughly deserved his podium finish.

"Nasser [Al-Attiyah] too has been fantastic this weekend. He has now finished in the top-five on all [WRC] events this year. Teamed with his string of victories in the [FIA] Middle East [Rally Championship], this is looking set to be a very good year for him.

"All of the drivers performed well on the stages. Evgeny [Novikov] had a disappointing day yesterday, but his second place on the Power Stage underlines his pace, and ? although this wasn't his weekend ? Mads [Ostberg] managed to set good pace on some of the stages which is very promising for the next events.

"We're set-up well for the second half of the season now. The whole M-Sport team has performed really well this weekend and I am sure that more good results will follow."

Scaling Mount Olympus in Greece: victory for Latvala and Volkswagen

Posted: April 13, 2016 9:36 AM

Victory for the boys in blue: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) won the Acropolis Rally in Greece in the Polo R WRC. Volkswagen's fourth win this season in the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) marked the duo's first triumph for Volkswagen. Two other points finishes gave the factory team from Wolfsburg further reason to celebrate: Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) claimed fourth place with an impressive final spurt ? in just their third event as the crew of a Polo R WRC. Meanwhile, S?bastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia defended their lead in the WRC Drivers' and Co-Drivers' Championship by coming from behind to snatch tenth place. On top of all that, Volkswagen is still leading in the Manufacturer's Championship.

Everything falls into place ? Jari-Matti Latvala's firsts and successes

Jari-Matti Latvala first took on the "Acropolis" at the age of 18 and achieved his first win ten years later, claiming victory in one of the classic events of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) ? the Rally Greece. And he stood at the top of the podium for the first time in Volkswagen's racing colours. It was the 28-year-old's eighth race win in the World Championship and his third podium finish, having claimed third place in Portugal and Argentina. Latvala won four of the 14 stages in Greece. So far, the Finn has achieved 276 SS best times. Latvala succeeded in adapting the Polo R WRC to his style of driving by changing the set-up of the differential at the Rally Argentina and making a number of minor adjustments in Greece. This paved the way for his success. Consistency, speed and perfectly calculated risk-taking enabled Latvala to bag his first win at the "Acropolis".

The ultimate acid test ? clouds of dust and melon-sized rocks

The Rally Greece is considered the ultimate acid test in the World Rally Championship. Thick dust, soaring temperatures, no end of coarse gravel and melon-sized rocks all put the three Volkswagen Polo R WRCs and the Volkswagen crews to the test. Although this season's Rally Greece was shorter than in previous years, it remained just as punishing from start to finish for the cars in 2013. Deep grooves in soft sand alternated with rougher sections. Given the difficult conditions, the drivers' starting positions on the three days of rallying played a crucial role in determining their chances.

A real fighter ? S?bastien Ogier's setback and fightback

It started out as a small problem but it had a big impact: on the very first day, fuel pressure issues cost S?bastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia their chance of securing another top finish. A cable connection came loose, interrupting the supply of power to the fuel pump. The Volkswagen team replaced the wiring loom in the Polo R WRC #8 just to be on the safe side. Having achieved five podium finishes in the first five rallies ? including three wins ? this setback in the very first stage of the "Acropolis" earned the pairing a ten-minute time penalty. S?bastien Ogier restarted under the Rally 2 regulations and fought his way into tenth place in the Special Stages on Saturday and Sunday, thereby winning one point for the overall standings in the Drivers' Championship. Ogier also managed to secure three points by achieving the best time in the so-called Power Stage ? when additional points are awarded for first, second and third ? despite being at a disadvantage because he had to open the route. With this performance, Ogier defended his lead in the WRC. Now, almost halfway through the season, he is 52 points ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who edged up to second position by winning in Greece.

A steep learning curve ? Andreas Mikkelsen develops positively and puts in a final spurt

Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) also contributed towards Volkswagen's success at the Rally Greece. Fourth place overall is not just Mikkelsen's biggest success in his career to date, it is also indicative of a new level of maturity. The "Acropolis" was only Mikkelsen's third rally behind the wheel of the Polo R WRC. From tyre damage and brake problems to SS best times and playing catch-up ? the Rally Greece proved a real emotional roller coaster for Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula. The highlight came right at the end for the Norwegian/Finnish duo. After having to pay tribute to the toughness of the "Acropolis" on Saturday ? an air hose came loose and punched through a brake pipe on the front right-hand side of the car, then a puncture cost them more valuable time ? Volkswagen's junior driver could do no wrong on Sunday. With three best times in the Special Stages ? his first solo in the WRC ? Mikkelsen fought his way from fifth place to fourth and bagged an extra point in the final Power Stage. Mikkelsen secured his place in the WRC record books at the Rally Germany back in 2008 at the same time as record-breaking World Champion S?bastien Loeb and Petter Solberg (SS 19, "Circus Maximus") when he became the youngest driver ever to win a Special Stage.

Quotes following day three of the Rally Greece

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
"I'm absolutely thrilled and I'd like to dedicate this win to the whole Volkswagen team. The new season got off to a very difficult start for me, but the team always believed in me and supported me really well. I'm delighted to see so many happy faces now. Winning the Rally Acropolis also means a lot to me because it's extremely tough and it's a real classic. Ever since I entered the event for the first time here at the age of 18, I've dreamed of winning it one day. The last stage felt like the longest and hardest for a some time ? I felt every single stone and jolt in the car and couldn't wait for the finishing line to come into sight. Today is a day for celebrating!"

S?bastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
"Tenth place and points for coming first in the Power Stage ? that was the best we could do this time. Of course it's frustrating to feel that both you and the car have what it takes for a podium finish, but a minor technical glitch with the power supply to the fuel pump thwarted us in the very first Special Stage. From that point on, it was all about maintaining a high speed, making it across the finishing line every day and being in the right place when our rivals were struggling. We defended our lead in the overall competition ? now we have to look ahead to the coming rallies when we want to be back at the front of the pack again."

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
"What an incredible rally and what an incredible final day. Everything went in our favour today after yesterday's difficulties. We got into a good rhythm and tried to put pressure on Nasser Al-Attiyah in fourth place. And it worked. I had caught up and even got just ahead of Nasser by the end of the first run through the stages this morning. The fact that we also scored no less than three best times in the Special Stages was the icing on the cake, of course. On balance, we're satisfied with the outcome of the Rally Greece and our performance. It's the best WRC result of my career, so I'm really pleased. And it's thanks to my mechanics, who did outstanding work yesterday. All of that whets my appetite for more ? I can't wait for the next rally in Sardinia."

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
"Winning the Rally Greece is a success for the whole team. Jari-Matti Latvala put in an absolutely perfect performance and really earned this win with patience and calculated risk-taking at the right time. The fact that a puncture would have made the difference between a win and a medal-less fourth shows just how much credit is due for this performance. Three different manufacturers on the podium is evidence that the World Rally Championship is a very close-run thing. That's why I'm proud of the whole team and absolutely delighted for Jari-Matti. I was also very impressed by Andreas Mikkelsen here in Greece ? he overcame all the difficulties he faced and took fourth place at the end with an unstoppable final spurt. S?bastien Ogier also deserves a great deal of respect for his performance ? despite technical difficulties on day one, he made the best of the situation and ultimately collected valuable points for both WRC championships. Following on from this great performance across the board, I'm already looking forward to the Rally Italy in Sardinia in three weeks' time."

And then there was ...
... one Japanese fan's tribute to "Mister Mysterios". Inspired by Julien Ingrassia's alter ego ? the masked man "Mister Mysterio" who became a running gag with the help of a French journalist just over a year ago ? Yukari Okamoto made a miniature model of the man in the wrestling mask and presented this "Mini Mysterio" to S?bastien Ogier's co-driver. To see what the XXL and XXS versions look like together, go to www.facebook.com/elmistermysterio

Fuchs' Fabulous Fourth Win For DMACK

Posted: April 13, 2016 9:36 AM

DMACK driver Nicolas Fuchs has continued his run of victories in the WRC2 Production Cup after taking his fourth consecutive category win on the Acropolis Rally of Greece today.

The Peruvian battled high temperatures and rock-strewn roads to take victory and consolidate his position at the top of the championship where he now holds a commanding lead of 48 points. Ricardo Trivino, also using DMACK tyres, holds second in the championship. The result also leaves Fuchs second in the overall WRC2 classification.

DMACK had played its mid-season joker ahead of this weekend's sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship by nominating its DMG+2 tyre in S3 compound as the new hard option tyre for the remainder of the season.

The well-proven compound performed exceptionally well in what turned out to be a rough and tough Acropolis Rally. High ambient temperatures alongside the traditional abrasive gravel road surfaces meant the event was a huge test for drivers, cars and tyres.

But some sections of road, which had been used up to four times across the 306.53km event, became exceptionally rough and delivered a stern test of puncture resistance and durability. The DMG+2, which was developed after durability testing in Greece last year, performed well and delivered the strength needed to master the conditions.

Because of rough and rutted surfaces, Fuchs played a clever game of pushing when he could but also selecting when to back off to preserve his car ? which is less modified than some of the other WRC2 competitors. Tyre strategy also played a key part as WRC2 competitors only had a maximum of 28 tyres in their allocation.

The rally was again based in the coastal town of Loutraki and, after start celebrations in Athens on Friday evening, crews were pitched straight into action tackling the Kineta-Pissia test, the longest of the rally at 47.7km. Saturday's action comprised of two loops of four stages to the west of Rally HQ separated by mid-day service and the action concluded today with stages close to Loutraki.

After changing its nominated tyres using the joker system, DMACK will now use the S3 compound as its hard option tyre and an all-new S6 compound as the soft option tyre for all remaining gravel events this season.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
"This rally has probably been one of the toughest events so far this year in terms of physical demands on tyres and the success of our ongoing development is evident. Nicolas' result proves we've got a strong gravel tyre and now, with the change to compounds going forward, we believe the options we've got available for competitors will deliver a performance advantage on fast gravel events."


Posted: April 13, 2016 9:34 AM

Continuing to race in committed fashion right to the end, Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio finished as runners-up at the Acropolis Rally. The Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team crew thus picked up their second podium finish of the season, after taking third place at Monte-Carlo. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished in eighth place.

The third and final leg of the Acropolis Rally was also the 'easiest'. Held on roads not far from the service park, the Pissia and Loutraki tests ? each run twice ? were a lot smoother than the stages contested on the first two days of the event.

Holding the same position since Friday evening, there was little point in Dani Sordo changing his strategy for the final day. While managing his lead over the third-placed driver, looking after his car and his tyres in the process, the Spanish driver made no attempt to set any really fast times. Following the third position secured at the season's opening round in Monte-Carlo, he claimed his best result of the year. It was also the twentieth time he has finished as runner-up in 104 WRC rallies.

"We didn't fight for the win, we had to be content with driving in the lines without taking any unnecessary risks", he explained. "I've been on a poor run of results, finishing out of the points in three of the last four rounds. So, second place is a morale-boosting result and means that we score points that we really needed. I hope that this result will enable me to feel more confident and reach new heights, starting with Rally Sardegna."

Equally isolated in the overall standings, Mikko Hirvonen held onto his eighth place: "We were really unlucky and it's not a good result for us. But these things happen in motorsport. We have to stay positive, focus on the next event and hope that our luck changes."

"Dani produced a performance entirely in line with our expectations", commented a satisfied Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal. "We asked him to secure the best possible result without taking any risks, and that exactly what he did, from start to finish. The technical problem that affected Mikko's car at the start of the race prevented us from taking full advantage of what might otherwise have been a very good opportunity for the Manufacturers' Championship. It's a shame, but he managed to make it to the end and pick up a few extra points, which may prove vital at the end of the season."


Posted: April 13, 2016 9:29 AM

1 Latvala / Anttila VW Polo R WRC 3:31:01.2
2 Sordo / del Barrio Citro?n DS3 WRC +1:50.0
3 Neuville / Gilsoul Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2:14.1
4 Mikkelsen / Markkula VW Polo R WRC +3:55.1
5 Al-Attiyah / Bernacchini Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4:12.6
6 Ostberg / Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5:48.7
7 Prokop / Ernst Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7:22.4
8 Hirvonen / Lehtinen Citro?n DS3 WRC +7:56.6
9 Novikov / Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +8:11.8
10 Ogier / Ingrassia VW Polo R WRC +10:10.3

Entry List

Posted: May 8, 2013 12:44 PM

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