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Old 06-09-2000, 01:41 PM   #1
M8
Scooby Specialist
 
Member#: 949
Join Date: Feb 2000
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NJ
Vehicle:
06 F2000
Speed Triple

Post latest news from the Acropolis rally.


The Acropolis Rally lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest
events in the FIA World Rally Championship with several leading crews
retiring after damaging their cars and others effectively losing all
chance of a top result with marginally less dramatic problems. Colin
McRae took charge of the event with a string of fastest times and also
benefited from running further back on the road. Tomorrow should see
another switch around of positions as tonight's leaders suffer in the
same way that Richard Burns has done today, leaving the battle finely
poised for a frantic dash to the finish line on Sunday afternoon!

Ford
Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz were the men on a charge early today, the
Ford stars benefiting from running further back on the road where the
surface had been swept clean by previous cars. “I wanted a good clean
run and that's just what I got,” enthused McRae who led the event after
the first three stages as the cars arrived at the Inoi service area.
I'm quite surprised by the pace but I'm not pushing that hard. There
are a lot of hidden dangers here…as Marcus has just found out!” Sainz's
only problem on the early stages was the searing heat that is being
made worse by the crews having to wear full fireproof overalls for the
first time. “It's really unpleasant but there's nothing we can do about
it except drink plenty of fluid.” Petter Solberg was up to third after
the second stage but slipped well back on the third after going off and
getting the car stuck on a bank. “There were 20 or so people watching
but no one wanted to help. In the end I got down on my knees and begged
them to push and finally four came along to help,” he said.

Peugeot
Marcus Gronholm's hopes of closing the gap to FIA World Championship
leader Richard Burns were dashed on SS3 when the Finn rolled his Peugeot.
It was 10kms from the end of the stage,” he explained. “I cut a slow
corner but there was a concrete post hidden in some bushes and obviously
it wasn't in my notes. The car rolled very quickly.” He was able to get
the car to service and continue, but he admitted that he had lost too
much time to offer a serious challenge. Happily he was uninjured in
the accident but then cut his hand on some of the broken glass while
trying to close the door at service. Francois Delecour's progress was
hindered by running for some considerable distance in the dust of Toni
Gardemeister's ailing SEAT.

Subaru
A broken front shock absorber cost Richard Burns time early on but it
was the problem of running first on the road that cost the Championship
leader the most time. “I can't do anything about it today but I'm happy
where I am,” he admitted. “The heat is the biggest problem and there's
no doubt that it's affecting my reactions,” he explained. Burns' co-
driver Robert Reid, actually collapsed for heat exhaustion at the end
of stage 5, but recovered shortly after and was able to continue in the
event. Team mate Juha Kankkunen was experimenting with different tyre
compounds to the ones chosen by Burns but he was conscious that today
was a day to be careful. “You have to survive today because tomorrow
the competition will be a lot harder,” he said. Both cars were lucky
to do just that as a mysterious brake problem hampered both their progress
on the final stage of the day.

Mitsubishi
Freddy Loix was the first major retirement of the event, the unlucky
Belgian driver forced to abandon after the first stage with damaged
suspension. “I didn't hit anything,” explained Loix. “We were coming
to a slow left hand corner and something happened at the rear of the
car. We lost a wheel and we completed the stage with the back of the
car dragging on the ground which is why we had to retire with two more
stages still to go.” Team leader Tommi Makinen fared little better
although he lost the same right rear wheel after hitting a wall on
SS3. He completed the stage in te same state as Loix but was able to
get the car to service for repairs. It was 12 kms from the end of the
stage when we slid wide and hit a stone wall,” he explained.
Unfortunately his rally was over on the next stage when the left rear
wheel came off the car. The team will need to evaluate the problem
but initial reports suggest hub shaft failure on both Makinen and
Loix's cars was the cause.

Hyundai
Kenneth Eriksson was another of the events early retirements. The
Hyundai ace was fourth fastest on the opening stage but then retired
after SS3 when he lost all but first and second gears. The resultant
strain of pushing on in that condition and also being stuck behind
Luis Climent's ailing Skoda for several kilometres proved too much
for the Accent WRC and engine failure forced the Swede out. Alister
McRae was going strong in the second car but lost time in service after
the team needed to change a steering rack. Then after completing the
final stage, a rock broke one of the cars track rod ends, connecting
the steering rack to the wheel. After reaching the service point on
three wheels, they exceeded their maximum time allowed by just two
minutes and where out of the event.

SEAT
Toni Gardemeister spent the first three stages of the event struggling
with failed power steering and was running well down the order by the
time he reached service. After the problem had been fixed he was able
to show more of the speed he is capable of. “Two kilometres into the
opening stage the power steering stopped working. We had to drive
48kms without it before we reached service and the mechanics could
fix it. It was 65 degrees C° in the cockpit. Stage three was like
driving through hell, because the road was very twisty and it was
very physically demanding. My arms feel like lead and my hands are
all burnt and blistered. The stage felt like it had 1000 corners,”
he admitted. Team leader Didier Auriol had a huge scare on the same
stage when the throttle jammed open and he had to use the transmission
to control the car's speed. The engine also began to overheat and cut
to a 'safe' power setting as a result. Auriol said: "The conditions are
what we expected - extremely difficult. The Cordoba has been good,
but about 1.5kms before the end of stage three the throttle stuck
open and we almost went off the road. Then on the road section after
the stage the steering broke. The mechanics did a good job to fix it,
but as we left service it broke again, so they had to change it once
more and we collected 1m40s of road penalties. We could be in fourth
position, but with that we dropped to 12th."

Skoda
A severe fever and throat infection was not how Armin Schwarz would
have liked his state of health to be going into this event but the
German had to battle on gamely. “I'll carry on till I die!” he joked.
The team had to change the seals in the differentials at service which
cost some road penalties but otherwise he was surviving quite well.
His team mate Luis Climent didn't reach service after his car was
parked up on the road section after SS3. He lost a wheel on the stage
and delayed other cars as he limped through the stage. It was clear
that he was not going to be able to have the unit fixed at service
and so pulled out on the spot.

Other teams
Former FIA European Champion Krzysztof Holowczyc was forced out of
the FIA Teams Cup contest when he pulled off the road on SS3. A power
steering pressure loss forced him to retire after he wrenched his arm
struggling with the car. Briton Stephen Finlay (Ford Focus WRC),
surprised a few onlookers ending the day in sixth place. Toshihiro
Arai was setting some really fast times in the Spike Subaru team car
and underlining his growing ability on rough events. Group N was
again a Mitsubishi benefit with Argentinian Claudio Menzi and Gabriel
Pozzo heading current series leader Manfred Stohl, who was struggling
with shock absorber problems.

Tyre facts
With the road surface temperatures rising close to 50 degrees C° this
was undoubtedly the toughest test for tyres of any European-based rally
so far this year. Today has nevertheless been carried out at a furious
pace although the start order has had a direct bearing on the relative
performances of the drivers, as was also the casea year ago.

Michelin: The leading Michelin crews selected either the ZB or Z
pattern tyres and were fastest on all five stages today. Michelin's
ATS mousse was called upon to work on several occasions, most notably
on SS3 where Colin McRae punctured but was still able to set the
fastest time and take the rally lead. Pirelli: The Pirelli crews stayed
faithful to the XR pattern tyre throughout today's stages but selected
from three different compounds and constructions within that pattern.
Punctures were rare but when Didier Auriol suffered on SS3 the EMI
anti-deflation system worked correctly to maintain the tyre's performance
characteristics.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 1

Outright
1 McRae Ford Focus 1:04:09,6
2 Sainz Ford Focus 1:04:48,1
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 1:05:22,5
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 1:06:10,4
5 Burns Subaru Impreza 1:06:18,5
6 Finlay Ford Focus 1:07:36,2
7 Arai Subaru Impreza 1:07:39,6
8 Bakhashab Toyota Corolla 1:08:10,0
9 Schwarz Skoda Octavia 1:08:13,8
10 Papadimitriou Subaru Impreza 1:08:31,8

Group N
1 Menzi Mitsu Lancer 1:09:50,9
2 Pozzo Mitsu Lancer 1:10:11,0
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 1:10:39,6

2-Litre
1 Princen Renault Megane 1:12:02,4
2 Bugalski Citroen Saxo 1:14:18,3
3 Guest Hyundai Coupe 1:15:26,8

Teams Cup
1 Spike Subaru Team
Arai Subaru Impreza 1:07:39,6
2 Toyota Team Saudi Arabia
Bakhashab Toyota Corolla 1:08:10,0
3 Team Atakan
Yazici Toyota Corolla 1:09:42.0

------------------------------------------------------------------

Leading Retirements

- Loix, Mitsubishi
- Eriksson, Hyundai
- Climent Skoda
- Martin, Toyota
- Holowczyc, Subaru
- Makinen, Mitsubishi
- A.McRae, Hyundai
- 15 non seeded drivers

------------------------------------------------------------------

Stage Winners

SS1 - Gronholm, SS2 - McRae, SS3 - McRae, SS4 - Gronholm,
SS5 - McRae

------------------------------------------------------------------

SS 1 Skourta 20.02 km
1st Car: 11:40

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time

1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 11:54,6
2 Solberg Ford Focus 11:55,5
3 McRae Ford Focus 11:56,7
4 Eriksson Hyundai Accent 12:01,8
5 Burns Subaru Impreza 12:07,4

------------------------------------------------------------------

SS 2 Klidi 8.09 km
1st Car: 12:11

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time

1 McRae Ford Focus 5:40,1
2 Sainz Ford Focus 5:40,5
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 5:40,7
4 Solberg Ford Focus 5:42,0
5 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 5:43,1

------------------------------------------------------------------

SS 3 Thiva 20.12 km
1st Car: 12:42

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time

1 McRae Ford Focus 16:23,1
2 Sainz Ford Focus 16:27,6
3 Burns Subaru Impreza 16:36,7
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 16:37,2
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 16:37,2

------------------------------------------------------------------

SS 4 Kineta 9.47 km
1st Car: 15:40

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time

1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 5:20,7
2 Solberg Ford Focus 5:20,7
3 McRae Ford Focus 5:22,1
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 5:22,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus 5:24,8

------------------------------------------------------------------

SS 5 Agii Theodori 31.11 km
1st Car: 16:05

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time

1 McRae Ford Focus 24:47,6
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 24:53,1
3 Sainz Ford Focus 25:07,7
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 25:07,8
5 Solberg Ford Focus 25:24,1


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