The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen lead the team's assault in the Acropolis Rally, and Lancer WRC05 team-mates “Gigi” Galli and Guido D'Amore have powered up the leaderboard, overhauling Markko Märtin in the process. The crews hold
sixth and seventh respectively with just four stages remaining in this, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
“Both crews have had a very good day and I am happy with our positions,” said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. “We will have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.”
The second leg of the Acropolis Rally took the crews to the south of Lamia for two identical loops of four stages totaling 122.72 competitive kilometers. Conditions were once again tricky with two stages - the 24.45 kilometer Pavliani and the 14.61 kilometer Stromi - reported to be the roughest of the event.
Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen were on the pace from the outset, the Finns equal third fastest through SS8 as they fought to overhaul rival Finn, Mikko Hirvonen. Stage times inside the top eight in the following of the morning's stages ensured they maintained position, and closed the gap to fifth to a mere 3.3 seconds by lunchtime. This afternoon they continued to dice with Hirvonen but were unable to pass their rival after a gear selection problem and tire vibration hampered their assault.
“Okay, the day has been a nice one, except for a couple of small problems this afternoon,” said Rovanperä. “Mid- way through SS13 the gear-shift alarm came on and then another three or four kilometers later I missed second gear and switched to the manual system. It was tricky though and we lost time because the stage was so twisty. Then we had a puncture in the same stage, although it was impossible to tell which one. There was a vibration and we changed the front right for the next stage, but it was the same situation. We ended up changing all four tires, but then had another puncture on the front right before the start of the last stage! The tires were also too hard this afternoon, even though the roads were cleaner.”
Team-mates Gigi Galli and Guido D'Amore started the day cautiously but then set fifth fastest time in the second stage. They maintained a good pace, but then lost more than 40 seconds down on power in the last of the morning's stages with an engine related problem. This afternoon however, the Italian Lancer WRC05 crew was flying, and they set second fastest time in SS12 and then fifth fastest in the following stage to overhaul Peugeot's Markko Märtin. In the penultimate stage of the leg, the Italians inched further ahead and by the end of the day are 42.9 seconds adrift of Harri and more than 21 seconds ahead of Märtin.
“Today has been good, other than the one small problem with the engine this morning,” said Galli. “We started the day carefully and are sticking to our original tactics; this is good. Despite the engine problem, our position stayed the same and then we were able to pass Markko. For sure it is easier for me in the second lap each day, as I am learning the roads more, but the goal remains to learn for the future. Tomorrow three of the four stages are new so this will make it more even between everyone and it will be interesting to compare our performance in these conditions.”
Adding to the drivers' comments, Principal Rally Engineer Roger Estrada said: “The cars have essentially been running well today, it was just a shame we had a couple of small problems. Fortunately it didn't change the positions, but Harri's gear-shift problem obviously meant he couldn't attack Hirvonen.”
Tomorrow's final leg takes in just four stages, three of which are new, and covers 98.79 competitive kilometers.
Press release Mitsubishi Motors