So many things happened this year in Greece, and plenty of those happened in this weekend’s Acropolis Rally too! There was drama, retirements and bitter disappointments, but for once, Jari-Matti Latvala wasn’t part of any of those. Instead, he was collected, calm, painfully analytical (as ever), but also able to pace himself and adapt quickly to the conditions and the rough terrain. It really was a mature and confident drive by the Finn, and the victory is well deserved. He could have been so easily drawn into pushing too hard, or dropping his concentration, but he persisted and managed to have a clean weekend when it was most important. Bravo, and well done.
Second place in Greece went to Dani Sordo, who was also able to finally put everything in place, and have a trouble free weekend. Excellent for himself, his confidence, but also for Citroën. This wasn’t an easy rally for the French squad, but Sordo’s second place is a great sign (I hope!) of similar results to come in next rallies. To be able to avoid all the drama and problems in Acropolis, of all rallies, is a confidence boost no doubt. Dani Sordo should know well what to do with those boosts.
Third place and third different car and team on the podium – Thierry Neuville and Qatar M-Sport WRT grabbed the final step with another controlled and “stay out of trouble” drive by the Belgian. He even wasn’t so far behind Sordo, but pushing hard was not the order of the day in Greece, so 24 seconds might not sound like much on paper, while in reality is pretty huge.
We’ve heard it already today – Sebastien Ogier was not to blame for the problem which put him out of the rally on the very first day. Fair enough, but that’s what rally is all about. It’s a motor sport, and it depends on the mechanical devices as much as it does on driver’s skills. Ogier made the most out of it, collecting points for 10th place overall, and adding 3 bonus points for being fastest on the ultimate powerstage. Second fastest on power stage was Evgeny Novikov, while Andreas Mikkelsen completed the exciting final day by not only securing the fourth overall, but also snatching the final bonus point.
For everyone who was able to complete the rally with, pretty much, no drama, coming over the finish ramp must feel like a victory itself. But the man with plenty of sporting and personal victories under his belt is Robert Kubica, and he added another this weekend, by bringing the car home in fantastic fashion, taking the win in WRC 2 category, in front of Yuriy Protasov and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari.
Grueling and demanding Acropolis Rally is behind us. I believe it delivered just the right amount of drama and challenge, even in this shorter, some say crippled, format. A sharp stone is still a sharp stone, and by putting stages close together, in a long single legs, event retained much of it’s character, and hopefully secured it’s future.
Next up, Sardinia! But before that, some words and thoughts will be shared about the infamous power stage system. And soon.