Rd.4 BP Ultimate Acropolis Rally

Production Car World Rally Championship
1 to 3 June 2007


Arai Takes Dominant Win on Trying Greek Stages
SUBARU entrant's victory is over three minutes after 21 gruelling tests

3 June 2007
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The third and final day of the 2007 BP Ultimate Acropolis Rally was another true test of the crews and their mounts. The leg comprised of two pairs of stages, each run twice, with a third visit to the Superspecial to close off the event.

Toshi Arai led from the start, increasing the gap to over three minutes as rival Hanninen went off on the first stage. Despite some lower back pain that really made him sit up and take notice on a couple of moments in the morning, he continued to widen the gap to his pursuers right to the end of the event.

Meanwhile, the opening test saw Mirco Baldacci leap into third past Armindo Araujo and Juho Hanninen, after which he immediately set about reeling in second-placed man Andreas Aigner. He was five seconds quicker than his Mitsubishi rival on the first test; and took another 10 seconds on the following stage. On the second pass, Mirco ate away another half dozen seconds to his rival; but in the end, had to settle for third place - just 14.5 seconds away.

A little further back, Nasser Al Attiyah moved up to sixth on SS18 to run within one second of fifth-placed Mark Higgins. Back at Service, Higgins admitted to being pushed and nearly making one of the biggest mistakes of his career after taking a corner three gears too high. He reckons he got all 8.5 seconds' advantage on the stage from that one corner!
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Nasser and Mark then had a heck of a fight on the last pair of road stages. Al Attiyah was 4.8 seconds off Higgins at the end of SS21, but had reduced that to 3.4 ahead of the final Superspecial.

On SS19, the reigning P-WRC champion recorded identical times on the 17.87-km Assopia 1 stage with Takuma Kamada, both taking third-quickest on the stage. It marked the Japanese driver's best stage performance in his P-WRC career. He advanced to seventh in the morning, and was later rewarded with sixth at the end of play, and evidence of his continuing maturity and pace in the category.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"This year's Acropolis Rally has proven the performance of one man who stayed almost completely clear of trouble, Subaru's Toshi Arai. He never really put a foot wrong throughout the three days, and was able to maintain a huge margin over his adversaries until the end.

"We lost a couple of our star drivers early on in Kristian Sohlberg and Leszek Kuzaj; but Mirco Baldacci, who also suffered a double puncture early on, sorted himself out, coming back very strongly and only narrowly missing out on second place. The guy's ripe for a win - he's a brilliant driver who performs well under pressure, and he came back and pressured Aigner for second place right to the end. That's the mark of a truly great driver.

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Nasser Al Attiyah also took the challenge to Mark Higgins on the second lap today, ending the event a scant 8.4 seconds behind his rival. He's had a very tough rally, his tyres haven't been right and he's struggled to get the pace. However, it's great to see Nasser back pushing the pace at the front and getting fastest times after such a tough first half of the year in the P-WRC and his home championship.

Takuma Kamada has shown us his best performance to date on the Production championship. It's all the more remarkable as his rally car never really arrived for the event, and he had to use another team's recce car - marking a better than fair performance from Takuma here.

The last day of competition saw yet more retirements from our opposition. This rally was very hot and very demanding - it was great to see the Subarus pull through so strongly at the finish.

It's a great end to the first half of the year for us; we've here with a 14-point lead in the championship. We'll have to see what the second half of the year has in store, but everybody's waiting with baited breath. See you all in three months as we fight for our next category win!"

Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Toshihiro ARAI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 4:10:08.9 0.0
2 Andreas AIGNER Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:13:07.3 +2:58.4
3 Mirco BALDACCI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 4:13:21.8 +3:12.9
4 Mark HIGGINS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:14:40.8 +4:41.9
5 Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYAH SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 4:14:59.2 +4:50.3
6 Takuma KAMADA SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 4:16:31.5 +6:22.6
7 Gabriel POZZO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:19:44.2 +9:35.3
8 Simone CAMPEDELLI Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:20:51.3 +10:42.4
9 Evgeniy VERTUNOV SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 4:24:28.8 +14:19.9
10 Loris BALDACCI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 4:26:24.3 +16:15.4