Acropolis : Syms Racing Team Subaru / PCWRC - Finish
Aki Teiskonen suffered a cruel blow on the penultimate stage of the Acropolis Rally of Greece when suspension problems robbed the 25-year old Finn of a 36 second lead in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship
Teiskonen's brand new 2006-specification Subaru Impreza STi had run virtually faultlessly through the three days but eventually came home fourth to give Teiskonen his first points of the season.
As he emerged from yesterday's final stage it seemed that the 25-year old Finn (who is co-driven by his brother Miika) had retained his third position but soon afterwards things changed dramatically. Early leader Gabriel Pozzo had suffered engine problems and collected sufficient time penalties to drop behind the Finn as he checked into the final control.
Then the event stewards imposed a penalty on new leader Nasser Al-Nattiyah for not following the rally route correctly. As a result Teiskonen went into the final day holding a PCWRC lead of just over two minutes. This was a useful position to have as the stages of the third leg were reverse direction runs of stages already used twice during the event and therefore incredibly rough on their third and fourth usage.
Over the first two stages of the final day Teiskonen was happy to control his pace, unconcerned about a strong challenge from Mirco Baldacci. However on the third stage a rear suspension link broke and suddenly the San Marino driver was within striking distance.
Luckily the Finns had the necessary spare parts in the car to replace the link on the road section after the stage. "Before the rally we decided to carry more spares than usual because of the risks here in Greece. This was exactly the situation that we were concerned about."
Sadly the suspension fix proved only temporary and when it failed again on the final gravel stage of the event Teiskonen saw his lead not only drain away but turn to fourth place instead as he limped through the stage.
"It was a big disappointment but luck just wasn't with us. One minute we were driving carefully to a possible maximum points and the next we had lost almost everything. Maybe using these stages so many times wasn't such a good idea," said a very dejected Finn. "But although we didn't get the result we wanted we proved that we had the right approach to difficult events like this and that I can drive with my head as much as my heart. The new Subaru is very nice to drive and I think we can push hard with it."
Event officials handed a five minute penalty to third placed Mirco Baldacci when it was noticed that the San Marino driver had failed to fit a replacement rear bumper to his car at the service halt prior to the final stage, thereby dropping Baldacci to fifth and promoting Teiskonen.
Teiskonen had been heading for victory in the category until he suffered suspension problems on both of the final gravel stages ahead of the asphalt superspecial at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
Press release Syms Racing Team Subaru