With further revisions to his suspension settings at the overnight half in Kamena Vourla last night, Makinen set off for the first of the seven special stages today with high hopes of catching his main World Championship rival, Colin McRae (Subaru), However, a bent steering arm on the first section couldn't be repaired until the first official service area after the third stage. and he had to deray his attack until stage 12, when he started to close in on his Scottish rival, halving the Subaru's lead from Im 29s to just 44 seconds at the end of the 364km leg after 152km of competitive driving. Many thousands of spectators were enthtalled by the action over the hot, dusty stages in temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius, crowding the roads while enjoying the entertainment during the Greek bank holiday.
In warm sunshine at the second overnight half, FIA World Rally Championship leader Makinen said : "It's been a long, hard day, but we are very happy. Unfortunately we had the steering arm problem on the first three stages, but we recovered well. I also had a rear puncture on stage 12 and 13, but my Michelin tyres saved me with the ATS system so I lost no time. The stages were very fast today and I enjoyed them. Tomorrow I will keep the pressure on Cplin, but I will not take any risks. I will drive at a good speed, but safely,"
In Group N , the category for standard production vehicles, German driver Uwe Nittel's chances were boosted by an overnight decision decision by the organisers to cancel the results of stage six yesterday, where the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III driver had lost most of his time with a puncture, thus he stated the second leg in third place instead of fifth, and quickly overtook his class rivals to move into first place on stage 10 with a stunning drive.
Gustavo Trelles, also driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III, lost the lead to Nittel and dropped back to second, ahead of third placed Pascal Smets and Jorge Recalde, who now holds fourth. All are driving Lancer Evolution IIIs, making it a dominant Mitsubishi 1-2-3-4 at the end of the leg.
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Manager Phil Short commented : "We had a few problems with Tommi's car at the start, but he did very well today and clawed back a lot of time on Colin, he halved Colin's lead and made very good progress. The car needed only routine service here at Kamena Vourla, so everything is going to plan. We are very pleased also with our progress in Group N. Uwe Nittel has forged ahead, and we are very happy with that,"
Of the 71 cars that started leg 2 out of the original 93 that left the Acropolis in Athens yesterday moning, just 55 remain in the event at the second overnight half Kamena Vourla tonight. They face the final six stages coverring 153 km before turning south for the finish at the peace and Friendship Stadium in Athens tommorow night at round 19:15 The event restarts from Kamena Vourla tommorow at 08:30..
|1.C. McRae / D. Ringer||GB/GB||Subaru Impreza 555||03.39.11|
|FIN/FIN||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+0.44|
|3.C. Sainz-L. Moya||E/E||>Ford Escort RS Cosworth||+1.34|
|4.K. Eriksson-S. Parmander||S/S||Subaru Impreza 555||+2.31|
|5.P. Liatti-F. Ponz||I/I||Subaru Impreza 555||+3.05|
|6.B. Thiry-S. Prevot||GB/GB||Ford Escort RS Cosworth||+4.34|
|7.F. Loix-S. Smeets||B/B||Toyota Celica GT Four||+4.55|
|8.G. Pianezzola-L. Roggia||I/I||Toyota Celica GT Four||+8.07|
|D/S||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||1st Gr N +24.17|
|ROU/ROU||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||2 Gr N +26.46|
|B/B||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||3 Gr N +27.25|
|RA/RA||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||4 Gr N +32.58|
08:30 Start from KAMENA VOURLA
11:55/12:10 Regrouping at Loutra Ipatis
18:30 Arrival in Kamena Vourla