Suzuki driver P-G Andersson has extended his lead over three other Suzukis on the second leg of the Acropolis Rally, round four of the Junior World Rally Championship. Urmo Aava remains second in another Ignis, while Suzuki's Guy Wilks completes the podium. Fourth is yet another Ignis:
Kosti Katajamaki, while the Suzuki of Martin Prokop is running seventh and Alan Scorcioni is eleventh.
After setting a storming pace on the opening leg yesterday, P-G concentrated on consolidating his advantage at the head of the field. He fulfilled his mission perfectly, not putting a foot wrong, and he now heads into the final day with an advantage of over three minutes. None of the Suzukis had any mechanical problems over the final day, resulting in the cars coming back to Parc Ferme in first, second, third and fourth places!
The second and longest leg of the all-gravel event consisted of eight rough and rocky stages, which proved to be a real endurance test for man and machine. As is usual in Greece at this time of year the weather was extremely warm, with temperatures in excess of 30 degrees centigrade.
P-G, who is the current Junior World Champion, said: "It was another hot and rough day, which was almost certainly the toughest of the rally. Luckily we were able to start the day with enough of a lead not to have to push hard on the really rough parts, which was always the plan here. Of course you can never relax, but we were able to look after the car a bit and choose our lines carefully. The Ignis has once more been very easy to drive, despite the fact that conditions were really tricky."
Urmo Aava had an equally problem-free day in second place. His Ignis was both fast and reliable, enabling Urmo to maintain the second place in which he started the day.
The Estonian said: "I'm very happy with today. I've been pushing quite hard though, and as is always the case in these types of situation, you often have one or two little 'moments'! There has been nothing to seriously worry me though, and I'm determined to keep on pushing hard. Guy Wilks is very close behind me, so it should be a good battle!"
Guy Wilks had a bad start to the rally when a rock holed his gearbox on Friday, but he recovered steadily throughout the day to end up in a solid third place. He ends the leg a mere 3.6 seconds behind Urmo, which should make for an exciting finish to the rally on Sunday.
Guy reported: "Today was something of a damage limitation exercise. I needed to go as quickly as possible in order to make up for the time lost yesterday, but not so quickly that I compromised my chances of finishing. It's very easy to make a mistake in these tricky and slippery conditions, which is the last thing I need. Obviously I have a good chance of taking second place tomorrow, but I also have to drive with the championship in mind."
Team manager Risto Laine said: "So far everything has gone entirely according to plan, apart from the holed gearbox casing on Guy's car yesterday. Our objective was to push on the opening stages yesterday, in order to build up a lead that was comfortable to control on the rougher stages today. This is what has happened, and I'd like to congratulate the entire team on doing a fantastic job so far. But we must not forget that there is still a long way to go and it's important for everybody to remain concentrated."
Kosti Katajamaki, competing with an Ignis run by Suzuki Sport Europe, steered clear of trouble to end up with fourth place heading into the final day. With a large gap in front and behind him, Kosti's aim is to keep his position safe until the end of the rally.
The Finn, backed by two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm
, stated: "This is a very tough rally, so to finish is a good achievement in itself, but I think we could have been even higher up the order if we had not had a couple of problems yesterday. It's a pity, as P-G has clearly demonstrated the pace of the Ignis here."
Tomorrow's final leg of the Acropolis Rally consists of just four stages, totalling 98 competitive kilometres in hot aned dry weather. The first car leaves Parc Ferme in Lamia at 0700 (CET+1) and the winner is expected to spray the champagne at 1425.
Press release Suzuki Motorsport