Sebastien Loeb's Greece Lightening

Sebastien Loeb's inexorable march to the 2012 world rally title took another step forward in Greece when Seb' extended his World Rally Championship lead to 31 points following his fourth win from this season's 6 rallies; this time in Greece. Loeb's third Acropolis Rally victory was not straightforward, as he had to overcome both a late puncture and endure strong challenges from both Ford drivers to secure his win, taking power stage bonus points as well.

Jari-Matti Latvala led early on but lost time with an overshoot and handling issues. The Finn, returning to the series after missing Argentina with a broken collarbone, charged back to get within a second of Loeb again, only for a mistake on Saturday to cause a puncture and brake damage, leaving him four minutes off the lead by the end of the day. Latvala eventually finished third.

In the other works Ford, Petter Solberg initially lost ground with an incorrect tyre choice, then had a scare when he damaged the underside of his car, before beginning to carving back into Loeb's lead only to crash out on Sunday's first stage. All this action left Loeb two minutes clear of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, a sufficient margin to hold the lead even when he had to stop and change a punctured tyre with three stages to go.

Hirvonen had dropped a bit of time to a puncture on Friday, but also lacked the pace to stay with the other frontrunners, so was pleased to complete a Citroen one-two ahead of Latvala. Amid heavy attrition in the rest of the WRC field, Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) recovered from a trip off the road on Friday to come back to fourth, ahead of the consistent Martin Prokop's Czech Ford.

Thierry Neuville succeeded in getting through a weekend without using Rally 2, but did lose several minutes with a broken driveshaft on Friday, leaving him a distant sixth for the Citroen Junior team.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 4h42m03.3s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 40.0s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 3m04.8s
4. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 6m16.4s
5. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 7m46.5s
6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 9m41.4s
7. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 12m59.9s
8. Yazeed Al Rahji Yazeed Ford + 20m12.2s
9. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 23m18.9s
10. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Seashore Mini + 28m40s

27th May, 2012