Rally Acropolis confirmed difficult race title
The third round of the European Rally Championship started in Greece, in the town of Lamia vicinity on 3 June. For several decades, the Acropolis Rally is considered one of the most difficult races for the vehicles – levers and steering rods damages and punctured wheels are common for this rally. This year’s special stages took place in the historic area – a few centuries ago there was a battle at Thermopylae, but this year the phrase “This is Sparta!” could be applied to almost every sports car. Though the battle here was not between the Greeks and Persians, but between international racers for seconds from a kilometer at the special stages.
The first of 12 rally special stages showed how much difficult it is: there were complaints about dust, stones, slippery road immediately at the finish, a pair of crews before have never reached it. The Russians opened the race, choosing the first starting position for the first racing day after the qualification. In general, the choice was successful – Sergei Remennik and Mark Rozin drove the first special stage comfortably without someone else’s plume of dust, unlike rivals. However at the liaison before the second special stage start the fuel pump refused to work and the Russians could not enjoy the fight. The car was delivered to the service to eliminate problems, and the crew started in the race only the next day according to the “Rally2” system with a penalty time for missed special stages of the first day.
Nasser Al-Attiyah became the overall leader of the day. The World Champion in WRC2, the multiple Champion in the Middle East Rally Championship, the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies holder, Al-Attiyah uses this race as training before the upcoming event in Cyprus, where the ERC race will be combined with the MERC round. He became the leader quite unexpectedly – Nikolay Gryazin, who was heading the race, lost his Skoda Fabia R5 near the final stage start due to fuel leakage, which caused the car to ignite and entailed its further complete destruction.
Italian Zelindo Melegari held the leadership at the end of the day in ERC2 category, where Sergei Remennik performs.
The final Acropolis Rally day again mixed up all plans and changed the layout unpredictably. Sergei Remennik could not finish at the seventh special stage of the race – driving his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution on a winding narrow road, the crew caught the roadside, the car was thrown and carried beyond the race track.
Sergei Remennik, “It’s very sad we could not go through all the stages, I really would like to assess these tracks in the competitive mode and have an invaluable experience on the legendary rally roads. But the race is really difficult, we were very lucky the car remained intact and did not went off too far. A very narrow mountain road, a slippery surface, but an incredible drive!”
The next race, where the Russian Performance Motorsport team will participate, will be held in Cyprus in two weeks, the last weekend of June – this year the fourth European Rally Championship round will take place in the hottest time.