Acropolis - Citroen Sport - Finish
This year's Acropolis Rally, round seven of the 2008 World Rally Championship, turned out to be a gruelling marathon contested at the pace of a sprint. The final day not only saw Sebastien Loeb
/Daniel Elena and their C4 secure the spoils
but they have also recovered first place in the Drivers' standings.
Dani Sordo/Marc MartŪ steered the second CitroŽn car to 5th overall, harvesting five points for CitroŽn which takes the French firm to within two points of the lead in the Manufacturers' table.
Driving privately-entered CitroŽn C4s run by PH Sport with the support of technicians from CitroŽn Sport Technologies, Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk (4th) and Conrad Rautenbach/David Senior (10th) also contributed to the Twin Chevrons' successful weekend in Greece.
With 110.74km of against-the-clock action on the programme, with a menu of three stages to be contested twice each prior to the final visit to the Tatoi super-special, the event's last leg was no Sunday stroll.
True, the terrain wasn't as rough as that encountered on Saturday, but the weather was as hot as ever and the day provided further drama. Sebastien Loeb
/Daniel Elena nevertheless controlled impeccably from in front to collect their second Acropolis success, the 41st world-class victory of their career and their fifth win of the year from seven starts. It also takes CitroŽn's score in the WRC to 47 wins.
"We haven't had such a quiet Sunday for some time," joked Sťbastien at the finish. "After yesterday's punishing stages, today's conditions were far more straightforward. We succeeded in driving sufficiently quickly to stay concentrated but at the same time we did what we could to make sure we spared our tyres and car all the way to the flag."
"This is an important win for us," continued the reigning World Champion. "It shows the progress we have made on the loose, while the work put in by everyone in the team to adapt our CitroŽn C4 WRC to its Pirelli tyres across the full spectrum of surface types has paid dividends. I am pleased with our run over what are incontestably the toughest stages of the season."
"Today's result has enabled us to recover the lead in the championship and it's been a good weekend, too, in terms of the Manufacturers' championship," Loeb underlined. "The strength and competitiveness of our C4 and the successful management of our Pirelli tyres were the main keys to success here."
"Our objective today was to reach the finish," admitted Dani Sordo. "Marc and I opted for a safe pace, yet we still managed to move up two places, so that's a good result. Had it not been for our problems yesterday we would probably have finished higher up the order, but I am still pleased with our final position which means valuable points for CitroŽn. I succeeded in staying completely focused over the three days."
"It would be difficult not to be pleased with the outcome of this rally, which is the roughest of the entire championship," said Olivier Quesnel. "Victory went to the C4 WRC, Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena are back on top of the Drivers' standings and CitroŽn is still very much in the running for the Manufacturers' title. Dani and Marc put in a strong run, too, while Urmo finished 4th and Conrad 10th."
"CitroŽn has every reason to be satisfied with its weekend here in Greece and, if we manage to enjoy the same sort of run in Turkey in two weeks' time, it will an ideal way to go into the summer break," Quesnel added.
Final leaderboard of the Acropolis Rally):
1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (CitroŽn C4) 3 h 54 min 54,7 s
2. P. Solberg/P. Mills (Subatu Impreza) + 1 min 09,5 s
3. M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen (Ford Focus) + 1 min 56,1 s
4. U. Aava/K. Sikk (CitroŽn C4) + 4 min 19,7 s
5. D. Sordo/M. MartŪ (CitroŽn C4) + 4 min 49,7 s
6. M. Wilson/S. Martin (Ford Focus) + 6 min 11,3 s
7. JM. Latvala/M. Anttila (Ford Focus) + 6 min 47,5 s
8. H. Solberg/C. Menkerud (Ford Focus) + 9 min 14 s
9. T. Gardemeister/T. Tuominen (Suzuki X4) + 10 min 13,8 s
10. C. Rautenbach/D. Senior (CitroŽn C4) + 13 min 29,1 s
WRC Manufacturer rankings:
1. Ford - 81 points
2. CitroŽn - 79 pts
3. Subaru - 50 pts
4. Stobart - 37 pts
5. Munchi's - 16 pts
6. Suzuki - 10 pts
WRC Driver rankings:
1. S. Loeb - 50 pts
2. M. Hirvonen - 49 points
3. C. Atkinson - 31 pts
4. JM Latvala - 26 pts
5. D. Sordo - 25 pts